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Using the power of football to gain good mental health

05 January 2017

A member of staff at CNWL’s inpatient mental health unit in Milton Keynes has been helping service users recover through football.

Each week for the past 12 months, Amy Humphries, Fitness Lead at the Campbell Centre, has taken five to six inpatients to regularly train as the MK Dons Mental Health Football Team under the aegis of coaches from the MK Dons Football Club and support from the Campbell Centre Fitness Team.

In total 35 inpatients from the centre have signed up to take part along with service users from community mental health services. 

MK Dons Mental Health Team

The Campbell Centre team in training at the MK Dons stadium

Amy’s squad of players is able to play in the BOBI league – a pan-disability league that operates across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire between September to May with a winter break from December to February.

The Campbell Centre players have also played at the MK Dons stadium.

Since being formed, the Campbell Centre and community mental health service users have received awards during an Annual Disability Football Awards event at the MK Dons Football Stadium.

This stems from CNWL’s partnership with the League Two football side MK Dons who run training sessions for service users.

The emphasis is on fun, fitness and building social networks, while CNWL provides training to MK Dons staff on mental health awareness

Amy, who is working towards gaining a football coaching qualification so she can coach a Ladies Mental Health MK Dons team, said: “I started it up when I started working at the Campbell Centre in January 2016 because I love football coaching and wanted to help our service users become more active.

“It is known there is a link between exercise and better mental health and fits in with the wider health and wellbeing narrative. It encourages the patients to commit and have fun trying something new. It has prevented re-admissions.

“Since being formed we have been invited to the MK Dons stadium as part of Mental Health Awareness Day in October, and have won awards for our Mental Health Team.

“MK Dons are now a great part of our discharge and community follow up and have even been involved in helping open our new gym at the Campbell Centre.”