FOOTBALL players and coaching staff across Devon are being encouraged to talk about mental health for World Mental Health Day.

TALKWORKS (Devon’s NHS Talking Therapies service) and the Devon County Football Association are today launching a partnership to encourage more adults across Devon to access mental health and wellbeing support.

The new partnership kicks-off with a “Check in for a Chat” campaign, which encourages adults across Devon to reach out to their friends and family to start a conversation around health and wellbeing.

The partnership will see TALKWORKS supporting players, club officials and FA staff across Devon, aged 18+, who are experiencing low mood, stress, anxiety, or sleep difficulties.

The NHS service has a dedicated Talking Health team, experienced in supporting adults with long-term health conditions, to improve their mental and physical wellbeing.

Working together, TALKWORKS and the Devon County FA want to normalise conversations around mental health, both in locker rooms and in the wider community.

Ashley Harris, Devon County FA Football Development Officer, said: “Devon County FA is looking forward to working in partnership with TALKWORKS to raise awareness of mental health and the support available by the NHS to the Devon football community.

“This includes partnering us with the launch of the Devon County FA health and wellbeing strategy, a mental health information evening at the Devon FA 567s small-sided football league in Newton Abbot and also running an online ‘Stress Less’ workshop, available to players, coaches, referees, parents and volunteers across the football community in Devon.”

Jonny Wilkins, TALKWORKS Head of Service, said: “We are delighted to be able to partner with the Devon County FA as part of their new Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

“We hope that through the popularity of football, and the links that clubs across Devon have with their communities, we can further promote mental wellbeing and raise awareness of the free treatment and support that TALKWORKS can offer across the county.

“Football is a sport that brings thousands of people together across Devon, and is a great opportunity for people to ‘Check in for a Chat’ with one another, as we continue to break down the barriers to talking about and seeking help for our mental health.”

TALKWORKS, part of Devon Partnership NHS Trust, currently has short waiting times for appointments and offers a range of free, confidential support options, delivered by registered and accredited NHS clinicians.

This includes one-to-one sessions with a therapist, interactive group courses, wellbeing workshops, live text-based therapy and access to online self-help.

TALKWORKS is a self-referral service and open to adults (age 18+) across Devon (outside Plymouth, which is covered by NHS Talking Therapies, delivered by Plymouth Options).

You can refer yourself for support online via the TALKWORKS website, or by calling 0300 555 3344.