Newcastle United Women captain Brooke Cochrane is leading conversations on mental health for the region’s young people as part of Children’s Mental Health Week.
A question-and-answer session for more than 100 secondary school pupils saw Cochrane share her own mental wellness journey and provide practical advice as an ambassador for Newcastle United Foundation’s Be A Game Changer mental health awareness campaign.
Speaking at Longbenton High School in North Tyneside, Cochrane encouraged students to value mental health as much as physical health and to have open conversation about how they are feeling with family and friends.
Cochrane’s visit during Children’s Mental Health Week also sees the Foundation’s Be A Game Changer campaign taking center stage at St. James’ Park as Newcastle United host Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon.
Signposts to free, confidential support and wellbeing advice through the official charity arm of the club will be visible throughout the stadium for all supporters across advertising boards and regular stadium big screen messaging.
And those in St. James’ Park or watching at home will also see the Magpies proudly wearing Be A Game Changer t-shirts during their pre-match warm-up to help break down stigmas surrounding mental health issues which will affect one in four people each year.
Brooke Cochrane, Newcastle United Women captain and Project Officer at Newcastle United Foundation, said: “Making sure mental health is part of everyday conversation is so important, but it’s crucial we introduce this to children, teenagers and young people to prepare them for later life .
“In a very short space of time, pupils I’ve spoken to were quickly able to identify life events that may negatively impact their mental health like bullying or losing a loved one. It means we can provide the tools and support to let these young people know it’s okay to open up about how they’re feeling and that they will be listened to and understood.
“Introducing topics like mindfulness and understanding emotional growth at a young age is something I wish we’d had at school, as many other people in my generation will.
“Assemblies and awareness weeks like Children’s Mental Health Week do spark conversation and we expect these pupils will leave the school hall and talk about the session between themselves. It might not be every student, but dozens will carry on this discussion – in school, at home, with siblings or friends of different ages and that’s really important.”
Cochrane spoke during a session delivered by Michael Johansen, Mental Wellbeing Practitioner at Newcastle United Foundation, who told students more about the charity’s new Youth Wellbeing program for 11 to 25-year-olds.
Newcastle United Women captain Cochrane added: “Our special assembly during Children’s Mental Health Week is part of the Foundation’s new Youth Wellbeing programme, which provides targeted mental health support for young people referred to the charity.
“When I was younger, having or discussing poor mental health was like the elephant in the room and it still is for a lot of people. I was massively restricted trying to deal with my own mental health – I didn’t speak about it as I didn’t want to put that on anyone else’s shoulders.
“When my ACL injury happened, I realised I couldn’t do everything myself anymore and I needed to reach out. I hope these students take something from that and that it shouldn’t take something so big to realise you need help and that you ‘ll feel ten times better for talking.”
Newcastle United Foundation’s award-winning Be A Game Changer mental health awareness campaign offers free health and wellbeing support services for anyone who needs them. The Foundation’s dedicated Be A Game Changer webpage and social media shares tips on keeping physically and mentally healthy, signings to support, and a space to share the stories and experiences of Magpies supporters.
The campaign is funded by Newcastle City Council, North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Network, Premier League Charitable Fund, and The National Lottery Community Fund, helping provide mental wellness-boosting sessions like Sleep and Stress workshops, Walking Football for older players of the game and a 24/7 textline support service by texting ‘BAGC’ to 85258.
For more information about Be A Game Changer or for help and advice from Newcastle United Foundation, visit nufoundation.org.uk/beagamechanger.
“Making sure mental health is part of everyday conversation is so important, but it’s crucial we introduce this to children, teenagers and young people to prepare them for later life.”