Former Reds goalkeeper helps launch mental health campaign for school pupils

Former Reds goalkeeper helps launch mental health campaign for school pupils

by Henry James (November 2021)

FORMER England and Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland has teamed up with Edge Hill University and St Bede’s Catholic High School in Ormskirk to launch a mental health campaign for young people.

Kirkland, 40, is using his experiences of battling depression to encourage boys and young men to open up about their mental health through a project called Make Talk Your Goal.

The former shotstopper, who made 25 appearances for the Reds, has spoken openly about the mental health problems that plagued the final years of his career, which led to a brief stay at a rehabilitation centre in 2019.

Chris has now teamed up with the University and the school in Ormskirk.

The partnership will see a team of researchers from the University undertake a placement at St Bede’s to evaluate the impact of Make Talk Your Goal on its students, before it is rolled out to schools across the country.

Chris said: “I started to struggle with my own mental health back in 2012, not long after I left Wigan Athletic to join Sheffield Wednesday.

“I struggled to adjust to the change in my routine and travelling a lot.

“At first, I didn’t realise that it was my mental health that was suffering because it just wasn’t something that you heard or spoke about much, especially in my world.

“So I kept it to myself and struggled for around five years and that was a really low time for me.

“I decided that enough was enough, and after covering it up for so long and trying to gloss over the issues, it reached a crisis point where there was no other option but to get help. That was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

No longer ashamed or embarrassed of his struggles, Chris hopes that by sharing his own harrowing story, he can encourage the next generation to speak out and seek help.

Make Talk Your Goal will see leading speakers from the world of sport and the arts promote conversations around mental health among boys and young men.

Chris added: “Make Talk Your Goal wants to reach out to young people, particularly young lads because we know that men often don’t speak out as much as women, and make them feel comfortable to talk about their mental health.

“We’re using sports to make the sessions exciting for them and to get them socialising and exercising too, because exercise is fantastic outlet for stress relief.”

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