Listen attentively. Ask simple, open and non-judgmental questions. Let them explain in their own words how they’re feeling. Try not to assume you already know what may have caused their feelings, or what will help. When the conversation starts, actively listen by giving your undivided attention. Try to leave any questions or comments you may have until the person has finished, so you don’t interrupt them. With space and time to talk, people are more likely to open up.
Remember you’re not expected to be a mental health professional and you should encourage people to seek advice, where appropriate. It’s important for you to maintain boundaries and should support the player to speak to a family member, friend or GP. More advice is available in the links below.
Reassure the person that they’re not alone. Seeking help can feel lonely and sometimes scary. Let them know there is support out there – and that you can help signpost them to the help they may need.
Tell a specialist person if you think urgent action is needed. An emergency could arise if one of your adult players:
- have harmed themselves and need medical attention
- is having suicidal feelings and feel they may act on them
- is putting themselves or someone else at immediate serious risk of harm.
If they are not safe by themselves - and as long as you feel able to do so - you should stay with them and help them call 999 for an ambulance or help them get to A&E.
For more information on all of the above and further details about how to support your players’ mental health read the official ‘Heads up’ guidance notes for managers and coaches working in adult football here.
‘Heads Up’ is the result of a partnership between The FA and Heads Together. Heads Together is a mental health initiative spearheaded by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Read more about the ‘Heads Up’ campaign by clicking here.
The Boot Room will be publishing articles supporting the campaign throughout the 2019/20 season.