Tommy Elphick believes the Aston Villa Foundation are helping to change lives via mental health project Think Football.
The session, which takes place every Wednesday in the Academy Building at Villa Park from 11am to 12.30pm, has built up a regular group of around 40 players.
Elphick attended a session and saw first-hand how the programme is helping to develop people’s self-esteem through playing football.
He said: “Sport as a whole is doing a good job of letting people know it’s good to talk and good to seek help.
“Sessions like this are brilliant for people to come to and have that bit of camaraderie and it acts as a haven where they can come and forget about things for a while.
“Being in a dressing room with a lot of young men for many years, you don’t realise the issues people are going through. From losing family members to a lull in confidence.
“I’ve always found that coming into a football environment helps ease those tensions and pains. To be able to come down here for a couple of hours a week is a big part of their week.”
As well as the football side, Foundation staff also deliver workshops and offer guidance for Think Football participants.
Elphick feels the supportive and accepting environment at Villa Park can continue to help more people in the future.
He said: “It’s my first time down here and I’m impressed with the environment the staff have created. It’s a haven for them.
“You can see just by the numbers that are down here what a great job the staff are doing. The longer you bottle things up, the harder they can be to recover from.
“Getting involved with something like this might just help give you the lift you need in life.”
If you’d like to get involved in Think Football, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We all have mental health and, just like with our physical health, we need to take care of it. But every year 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem.
That’s why we’re proud to be working with Birmingham Mind, the mental health charity.
Now we’re looking forward to welcoming Mind to this weekend’s match against Middlesbrough.
They’ll be at the game to raise awareness of mental health, and to raise funds to support their vital work.
Mind is a national charity with a federated network of independent, local charities.
Mind will be running the collection at the game, please give generously.
They're the current charity partner of the EFL – you’ll have probably spotted their logo on the back of club shirts this season.
Together with Mind and the EFL, we are using the power of football to raise awareness of mental health, to improve the approach to mental health in football and to raise funds to deliver life changing support.
Whoever you support, Mind supports you.
For more information on our partnership with Mind, head here.