Arsenal in the Community teamed up with its counterparts at Stoke City ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash when service users from the two Club’s respective Mental Health projects challenged each other to a friendly match at Arsenal’s Bergkamp-Cruyff pitch in Archway, north London.

The game was organised to celebrate World Mental Health Day, which took place on 10th October and aims to raise public awareness about mental health issues while reducing the stigma attached to those suffering from mental health disorders.
After the exertions on the pitch were over, the group was treated to a complementary lunch and tour of Emirates Stadium with Arsenal in the Community coaches.

Thanks to funding from the Premier League and Sport Relief, both Clubs are working on a project for mental health service users in their respective local areas.

Arsenal in the Community’s programme entitled "How are you feeling today?" offers football sessions twice a week for service users at Islington Mind and the Camden and Islington Foundation Trust. Participants also play in the PMA local football league as well as representing Arsenal in numerous other tournaments.

The project forms part of a national campaign, led by the Mental Health charity, Time to Change, which aims to challenge attitudes and prejudices about mental health.

Jason Kelvin, Arsenal in the Community Mental Health Project Officer, commented: “We were delighted that our friends at Stoke City were able to accept our invitation to come down to London and celebrate World Mental Health Day with us. Football is a powerful way of engaging people suffering from mental health issues, so days like this are a great opportunity for our service users to improve their physical wellbeing and meet other individuals with similar experiences.”

Paul Salvatore, Senior Community Coach for the Stoke City Community Programme, added: “We’d like to extend our thanks to Arsenal in the Community for what was a thoroughly enjoyable day for our programme users, not to mention our staff! Days like this are really special and to get the chance to go behind-the-scenes at Emirates Stadium was a real highlight for everyone.”

To find out more about Arsenal in the Community’s Mental Health work, contact Samir Singh on 0207 704 4158 or email ssingh@arsenal.co.uk.

To find out more about Time to Change, visit www.facebook.com/timetochange or www.time-to-change.org.uk. If you want to know more about help available locally, visit www.candi.nhs.uk.

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 19 Oct 2011