Football focus on mental health

Promoting positive mental health through physical activity

Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt has praised the work being carried out by one of Scotland’s largest football clubs to promote well-being and bring people together through physical activity.

The Minister visited Hibernian FC in Edinburgh to hear about its public social partnership with the Hibernian Community Foundation and NHS Lothian and the steps they are taking to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

Ms Watt heard about various projects the club is working on, including Changing Room, the first Scottish programme funded by the Movember charity. It aims to use the power and popularity of football to create a community where men are comfortable talking about mental health issues.

The club recently ran a focus on World Mental Health Day at a match, inviting six mental health organisations to come in and engage with supporters, and has also delivered mental health first aid training to a number of Scottish clubs.

Ms Watt said:

“I was delighted to hear about the projects which promote positive attitudes towards mental health. By reaching out to people who may be vulnerable, particularly at this time of year, Hibernian FC and their partners are leading the way in showing how we can reduce the stigma connected to mental health issues.

“The work that is being done here demonstrates clear links to the central vision of the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy, which is to work on achieving parity between mental and physical health. I was also very impressed to hear about the work Hibernian is doing in partnership with their city rivals Hearts to encourage those who may be feeling isolated and lonely this Christmas, to come along to their social events – particularly opening their doors to provide dinner for up to 400 people on Christmas Day.”

Leeann Dempster, CEO of Hibernian, said: “We are grateful to the Minister for taking an interest in the work we are doing at Hibernian with our partners. We think football has the potential to be an enormous force for positive social change.”


Investment in mental health has increased by 42.6% since 2006/07 to £928.9 million in 2015/16.

The Scottish Government recently announced funding to establish the Youth Commission on Mental Health Services.

Funding of £1 million over three years has been awarded to the Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH) to improve the physical health of those with mental health challenges.

Projects run by the club include:

  • The Changing Room, a two-year pilot project set up by SAMH working with the Scottish Professional Football League Trust (SPFL Trust) and Hibernian FC to engage with men in the heart of their community, and to take action for their mental health
  • GameChanger, a Public Private Partnership lead by Hibernian FC, NHS Lothian and the Hibernian Community Foundation, aims to unlock the power and passion associated with football and to make greater use of all Hibernian’s physical, cultural and professional assets, to deliver a better, healthier future for the most vulnerable people in our communities
  • Turning Point Scotland provides a wide range of recovery-focused social care services to adults with complex and challenging support needs. It provides a diverse range of services, including crisis intervention, housing support, care at home, community rehabilitation, social enterprises and residential care to various different care groups.


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