Rovers run a Mental Health Awareness Week at the Academy for players, parents and staff to explore some of the issues there are around this topic, particularly in professional sport and football specifically.
There have been some high profile cases in the past 12-18 months of players coming out and talking about suffering with mental health problems, particularly due to the pressure and expectation of performing at the highest level.
The Academy have worked this week with If U Care Share Foundation, who have worked in conjunction with the LFE for the past few years providing mental health and emotional well being training for the U18s. The impact the workshop has had, prompted us to see if they could deliver the same training to the Youth Development Phase players at U12s-U16s level.
Speaking about the project, Head of Education Neil Chadwick said: "They delivered over two days to the age groups looking at the stereotypes and stigmas attached to mental health and how the boys can help maintain their emotional well being.
"Matt and Sam from If U Care Share provided a fantastic platform to the topic for the players to understand more. One of the main messages coming out of the training was that its okay to not be okay. Sometimes you will feel rubbish and things won't be going too well, but to recognise that that can be normal is important to do.
"I think males find it hard to talk about their feelings, particularly as they are weary of their social standing within a group of people, but the training has been really focused on communicating how you feel to people that are there to support you."
The boys from If U Care Share also delivered one evening to the Foundation Phase parents from U9s-U11s, with a slightly different angle placed on the workshop. It was exploring some of the feelings their sons may feel throughout their academy lives and what different factors may make them feel like that.
Neil continued: "At the start of the week, Andy our Academy Psychologist delivered some introduction training to the topic also to the part time and full time staff. It was to introduce the week of activities, but also to start exploring some of the issues surrounding the topic.:
"The week finished with some of our U18 and U23 players being involved in a presentation delivered by The PFA.
"There is a fantastic counselling service available to players via the PFA and it was really to open their eyes that this is an issue in football, but more and more players are accessing and using the services to help them through times when they may be struggling."
To find our more about the If U Care Share Foundation
and to speak to people about mental health illness, please click here