For immediate release
Mental Health Football Association unfurls its ambitions at Parliamentary event
CNWL staff and former patients attended the formal launch of the Mental Health Football Association (MHFA).
They joined with more than 20 other NHS Community and Mental Health Trusts from across England on Tuesday last week to help in formally unveiling the MHFA, which brings together like-minded organisations who adopt the use of playing football as part of the recovery process.
Its aim is to encourage organisations such as football community trusts, NHS Trusts and mental health charities to become involved and support them in designing an appropriate football programme.
The inspiring event, which included speeches from MPs and from a former CNWL mental health patient who was helped by football, has led to a renewed commitment from within CNWL to expand its use and brought together staff working across different parts of CNWL within this area of work.
Simon Warren, Milton Keynes Mental Health Community Services Manager, said: "This was a well-attended event, from which we were able to learn about pockets of excellent practice across the country.
"In Milton Keynes we are looking at how we can work with the MK Dons Football Club to support more community mental health patients to join in the playing sessions we hold jointly with the club and are looking at how we can support players to take part in a supportive football league in the area."
Amy Humphries, Fitness Lead for Milton Keynes' Inpatient Mental Health Unit the Campbell Centre, added: "It was a great event and felt like mental health football was being born. We are really keen to get this up and running and on a bigger scale."
Across CNWL our occupational therapy services in Harrow and Hillingdon have well established patient football teams made up of people who are using our mental health services; Riverside Rangers in Hillingdon, and The Bridge FC in Harrow.
Both teams are affiliated with Middesex Football Association's Mental Health League. Seven other teams from across London are in the league including the Hounslow Hawks, West London, Petts Hill, QPR in the Community (Brent) and Arsenal Candi.
Nicola Jhumat, Lead Acute Occupational Therapist and manager of the Tamarind Centre in Brent's Park Royal Centre for Mental Health, added: "At Park Royal we've seen how playing football has helped people. It improves fitness and helps to rebuild confidence. I've seen first-hand how former patients have managed to totally recover through the power of sport - and in this case football."
Colin Dolan, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Football Association, added: "It was inspiring to see so many people pack into the room to not just hear what was being said by the many speakers but to also show their support for MHFA and "Football Therapy" in general.
"I was told the room held just over 100 people seating and we had well over a dozen people standing around the room to ensure they could hear and be part of something special."
Details about the MHFA are available here: www.mentalhealthfootballassociation.com.
Its next big project is the UK Mental Health FA Cup - a 16 team tournament comprising of four service user teams from each of the home nations to be held in Liverpool on 15 September.
Picture shows Simon Warren and Amy Humphries in Parliament
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