An Edinburgh football team formed in memory of a young man lost to suicide has joined forces with mental health charity Support in Mind Scotland to encourage players to open up and talk about their emotions and feelings.
Mental Mechanics FC were formed as a tribute to Edinburgh University graduate Charlie Tull, who passed away at the age of 24 after a struggle with mental illness, and the club have joined the ranks of the Lothian and Edinburgh Amateur Football Association.
While the league programme is on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the lads wait to return to action, they continue to meet online and hold monthly mental health drop-in sessions.
Fin Anderson, who founded the club with Jon Fraser, explained: “We wanted to remember our friend Charlie and set up a club where people felt safe to talk about mental health. If we can start the conversation, it can help make individuals realise they are not alone in their struggles.
“Football is a fantastic sport to simply have fun, let off some steam and improve your wellbeing. At the club, we aim to make everyone feel supported and direct people to further mental health services and advice provided by charities such as Support in Mind Scotland, who we are delighted to start a partnership with.”
Charlie and some of the team used to live in Forres, and the name Mechanics was chosen as a nod to the Highland League club which plays in the Moray town.
The Mental Mechanics have also designed their own eye-catching badge and kits. “The strips are pink to represent the brain and to encourage people to notice what the club is doing to help start the conversation on mental health,” Fin explained.
“We have already raised over £5,000 from individual donations and from our sponsors – Mosset Consulting, Simpsons Garden Services, and the Diggers pub – and during the height of lockdown we raised money through a FIFA competition.
“At the end of each season we aim to give away a proportion of money raised to a mental health charity. We now have two mental health charity partners who support us with additional support for individuals, Support in Mind and CALM. Support in Mind have further supported us in organising a once a month mental health drop-in session for the members at the club, looking at a range of topics.
“We are desperate to get back to playing some football. We want to have fun playing football, but we also want to play our part in raising mental health awareness, encouraging people to talk about their feelings and to seek help when they need it.”
Support in Mind Scotland provides mental health support to more than 1,300 people each week, including from its Edinburgh service at The Stafford Centre in Broughton Street. Spokesman Colin Leslie said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Mental Mechanics. We really applaud Fin and the boys for the novel way they have chosen to remember Charlie by generating important conversations about mental health among young men through their love of football.”
Support in Mind Scotland’s National Information line is open Monday to Friday during office hours on 0300 323 1545. You can learn more about Mental Mechanics on their website.