Cirencester College using futsal to talk about mental health

Cirencester Sixth Form College is running an innovative project using futsal as a vehicle to talk about mental health.

The FA College Grassroots Hub has received around £2,000 from The FA’s Innovation Fund to develop and deploy a workforce in futsal and football at the college.

Cirencester are one of seven colleges to have received the funding with further investment planned in colleges later this year.

The recreational futsal sessions being run by Cirencester’s enrichment programme will be linked through the college’s in-house counsellor, where students will be ‘prescribed’ a physical activity to help improve their mental health.

The sessions will be used to speak to the students as a group on how they are coping with pressures and stresses inside and outside college.

Jess Huddleston, Enrichment Project Officer at Cirencester College said: “The recreational futsal sessions will be led by our football activators, counsellor and a member of staff who will contribute towards students improving their physical and mental wellbeing and leading a healthier lifestyle.

“This opportunity is imperative in supporting students’ with mental health problems as they can share their concerns with peers and wellbeing specialists from various organisations. The difference this opportunity has provided to our students has been really positive and hope we can continue this work for many more years.”

With free tea, juice and biscuits during and after the session, the idea is to use futsal as a chance to talk about mental health and wellbeing. It is anticipated that this will also help to reduce the counsellor’s waiting list and get young people some of the help they need..

Students are offered stress balls that look like mini footballs, which gives the enrichment project officer a chance to talk about how exercise is beneficial for their mental health. Students will also be matched to an enrichment offered at the college e.g. futsal, football, yoga, Pilates etc.

The sessions are open to any student so even if they are not involved in futsal they know where to come for more support on their physical and mental wellbeing.

The importance the college places on mental health is highlighted by the fact they have supported Mind’s and EFL Trust’s #HaveYourMatesBack campaign by wearing their shirts backwards and using football as a way to open up the conversation about mental health.

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