David – This is my story
To mark World Suicide Prevention Day we want to talk about The Changing Room. This is a SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) project which uses connection with football to promote positive men’s mental health. Alongside major funding from Movember and support from the SPFL Trust, Big Hearts are key partners in making it run successfully at Tynecastle Park.
Today we hear from David Shields, who attends the project at Big Hearts. He shares an insight to his own mental health and tells us how attending The Changing Room has made a difference to his life.
In 2019 David was in a very dark place. Signed off work suffering with anxiety and depression, he contemplated taking his own life on a few occasions. He said, “If it wasn’t for my partner and son being at home, I probably would’ve done something to myself.”
It was during this time David realised that he needed help and someone to talk to. A friend of the family who had previously attended The Changing Room project highly recommended the group. “I decided to go along and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I soon realised that I wasn’t alone, and I met people who felt exactly the same way as I did.”
The Changing Room offers the opportunity for Hearts fans to meet up, start positive conversations about mental health and includes a variety of activities from boxing classes to cooking lessons. Throughout the pandemic it wasn’t possible to meet in person and virtual drop-in sessions were set up, to offer continued support. “I’m very grateful for the online support during lockdown, but I’m really glad we are back in the stadium.”
It can often take people a while to feel comfortable talking to the group, “After my second week of opening up, I never looked back. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”
David was full of praise for Dougie Gowan, SAMH Project Worker “The work he does is amazing, he gives his time to each of us. I can’t thank the guy enough, he has made such a difference to my life!”
The Changing Room uses football to bring men together to tackle mental health and this helped attract David to the group “I’m a Hearts supporter, but not all the boys in the group are and that helps get the conversation going. Coming here really has helped me get into a better place mentally.”
A final word from David “Don’t bottle things up, get help because it really could change your life forever!”
Thank you to David for having the courage to speak out and share his story, this could help many others.
Find out more information about The Changing Room.
If you are struggling with mental health, you are not alone. If you need to talk to someone please contact:
Samaritans 116 123
Breathing Space 0800 83 85 87
– September 21