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Making the EFL mentally healthy

2 February 2023

One of the key objectives of the EFL’s three-year safeguarding strategy is to ensure that Club Safeguarding Officers receive up-to-date quality assured training courses, enabling them to confidently deal with concerns that arise, as well as working alongside others to help prevent them from occurring in the first place.

“Safeguarding, wellbeing and mental health are all entwined,” Alex Richards, Head of Safeguarding at the EFL, explains. “When Safeguarding Officers are dealing with cases of harm or abuse and supporting victims and their families, more often than not these individuals are also experiencing mental health difficulties.

“I wanted to ensure that our Club safeguarding staff had access to a course which teaches them to recognise common mental health concerns, be able to listen non-judgementally and give support and information with regards to professional help available without cost being a prohibitive factor.”

During the pandemic, members of the EFL Safeguarding Team trained as Mental Health First Aid Instructors through Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, enabling the League to offer both the adult and youth Mental Health First Aid courses free of charge to all 72 Member Clubs.

MHFA England is a community interest company – established in England in 2007. They are the only licensed body to deliver mental health first aid training in England, with a desire to create a society where everyone can thrive, where there is zero stigma surrounding mental health and where mental health can be openly discussed and supported.

“The course has been very well attended and received, and we have had such positive feedback,” Richards continues. “We are hoping that by the end of this season, we will have at least one youth and adult Mental Health First Aider in every EFL Member Club.”

Vicki Cockman, Director of Delivery at MHFA England, adds: “We are delighted that the EFL Safeguarding Team have been trained as Mental Health First Aid Instructors and are now delivering our Adult MHFA and youth MHFA courses to Club staff.

“The last couple of years have been tough on everyone, and it is more important than ever that we build our confidence and knowledge on how to speak more openly about our mental health and support each other.

“By delivering our youth MHFA, the EFL is showing their young people the importance of looking after their mental health, that it is OK to talk about mental health and that they can and should ask for support when they need it.

“MHFAiders will not only be working to support families and colleagues, they will also be supported with ongoing learning and development opportunities offered as part of their certification. This will ensure that MHFAiders stay effective, confident and motivated and help to play their part in improving the mental health of the nation.”

Rob Cronick, Cardiff City Head of Safeguarding

“The training was vital in improving people’s attitude and addressing the stigma attached to mental health issues, while also having a positive impact on how I manage my own mental health.”

Greg Gillard, Bolton Wanderers Academy Designated Safeguarding Officer

“Understanding why people suffer, how they change and how to help them live more satisfying and gratifying lives is very important.”

Paul Antrobus, Crewe Alexandra Designated Safeguarding Officer

“Completing the Mental Health First Aid course has given me an understanding of the issues people may be going through and, importantly, on how I can support people going through this difficult period with confidence.”

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