Protecting people’s mental health well-being has been a critical priority for Blackburn Rovers Community Trust throughout the pandemic.
With the country having gone through several tough lockdowns during the past 12 months, raising awareness for mental health has been a rife as ever, with thousands of people in isolation with nobody to talk to.
In February 2021, the Trust threw its full backing behind the campaign to promote positive mental health for all, with a brand-new initiative called #RoversLetsTalk.
Inspired by the brilliant work of the Time-To-Change campaign, which aims to normalise discussion around mental wellbeing and end the stigma associated with mental ill-health, the Community Trust took to Twitter in collaboration with #TimeToTalk Day 2021.
According to research by MHFA England, one in four adults will likely experience a mental health problem in any given year, with 75% of all mental illnesses, excluding dementia, typically developing by the age 18.
And in January 2021, the Children’s Commissioner’s Annual Report estimated that a staggering one in six children now have a diagnosable mental health condition - up to 50% in just three years - with a plea for new, large-scale investment in mental health services to support young people.
While these numbers have clearly been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, they are a stark reminder of how vital the discussion around mental wellbeing continues to be, and how important it is for organisations to play their part in promoting positive mental health as a goal, long before individuals reach crisis-point.
Scientific research has shown that one of the most effective ways to boost people’s mental wellbeing is by making positive connections with others – something that has clearly become much more difficult in-person during the latest national lockdown.
To help support this goal, Blackburn Rovers Community Trust’s Pupil Wellbeing Officer, Simon Wootton, who already runs a mentoring and wellbeing programme for secondary school pupils called Premier League Inspires - set about launching #RoversLetsTalk with the sole aim of connecting the dedicated Rovers fanbase digitally, using social media.
The early returns have been fantastic. Trained Mental Health First Aider, Simon said: “A lot of misconceptions still exist about what mental health actually is.
"It is simply our collection of thoughts, feelings, moods and emotions, and naturally, these things fluctuate depending on the circumstances we face. We all have mental health – it’s not some sort of put-down.
“There are so many simple ways to boost your mental wellbeing, and of them is making connections with each other. We have an amazing group of fans on social media already – this was just an attempt to draw them a little closer to the club, and most importantly each other, while it can’t take place face-to-face at Ewood Park.”
In a little over 24 hours, the initiative had already gained a lot of momentum, with over 1,000 Twitter interactions, nearly 80,000 unique timeline impressions and a Twitter audience reach of 1.1m.
The Community Trust aim to keep the hashtag running whilst highlighting the work engaging other supporter groups, such as Rovers Chat, to help combat some of the enforced isolation from lockdown.
“Discussion on the hashtag been wide-ranging, from naming favourite Rovers players, past and present, and memories of first visits to Ewood Park, to much more heavy-hitting topics such as favourite brands of tea and our varying musical interests!
"So many staff from the club have volunteered time to get involved too – it’s been a really satisfying thing to be a part of and I’m delighted it’s been successful so far.
” ‘The Power of Small’ has been Time-To-Change’s key theme for this year’s campaign, using its platform to suggest simple ways in which everyone can play a part in supporting others with their mental health.
And #RoversLetsTalk has already been helping to achieve this, with several conversations taking place out of the public eye, with those who have reached out with more private struggles.
#RoversLetsTalk takes place each week via our Pupil Wellbeing Officer’s twitter page @PWO_brct where you can get involved in the Rovers conversation.