Be A Game Changer is Newcastle United Foundation’s mental health awareness campaign, encouraging everyone to talk openly about mental health.
The number of people taking their own lives is on the increase nationally and suicide is the most common cause of death among men aged 20 to 49 in England and Wales.
It's why we launched Be A Game Changer - to encourage people in our city to talk openly about mental health and to provide tips on how to improve your physical and mental wellbeing.
Health and Wellbeing participants now feel less isolated
Be A Game Changer Facebook support group members
Mental health support cards distributed at St. James' Park last year
Josh Banyard opens up about how the Foundation helped him find the support he needed in the community.
Talking is a high part of our mental health journey and by sharing your story - even after you're feeling better - it can really help others to take their first steps to better mental health.
There is still a lot of myths surrounding mental health. Misunderstandings can make us feel ashamed and isolated, but by sharing our stories and experiences, we can change these perceptions for good.
Follow the journeys of North East people, Newcastle United supporters, and others just like you who have been supported by Be A Game Changer towards better mental health.
Gary’s Story: ‘They said I had days to live… I ignored my mental health, which was a mistake’
Jimmy’s Story: ‘Growing up gay, attempting suicide to finding new hope’
Scott’s Story: ‘I'd have given my right arm for someone to speak to about my problems’
Stuart’s Story: ‘My mental health took away 13 years from my life’
At Newcastle United Foundation, we’re here to help and we’ve got five great tips to help boost your mood and improve your overall mental health.
Connect. Meet up with a trusted friend, family member, colleague or neighbour. We’re social creatures and even when we don’t feel like talking, it can be really beneficial to be around other people. Start a conversation with the season ticket holder you sit beside each game, check in with the friend you’ve noticed hasn’t been at the last few games, ask yourself and other twice if they’re really okay and if you feel alone, check out Mind’s tips on coping with loneliness.
Be active. Exercise is great for mental and physical health. It releases feel-good chemicals to the brain and it’s also a chance to connect with other people. Join a Newcastle United Foundation Health and Wellbeing programme like Walking Football, 12th Man, Man v Fat or disability football club. Try getting off the Metro a few stops early when you’re going to the game or see what’s happening in Newcastle by visiting Active Newcastle.
Take notice. Mindfulness might not sound like something for you, but every time you’re totally absorbed by a football match – that’s mindfulness! You’re not thinking twice about that problem or worry that’s been on your mind when Newcastle United are playing at St. James’ Park. When you’re not in the stadium, we have a seven-minute mindfulness experience – just like you’re at the game! Listen and take a moment to pay attention to how your body feels, what you see, smell and taste in that moment.
Keep learning. From trying a new sport, to picking up a new hobby or skill, you can occupy and broaden your mind with a different interest. Why not book a stadium tour at St. James’ Park, take a trip to the library, find adult and community learning classes at near you at Newcastle City Learning, The Recovery College Collective and WEA.
Give. Volunteering your time to a cause close to your heart can feel really good. Learn new skills, boost your confidence and meet new people – volunteering is an opportunity to be part of something that’s good for you and good for your community. Find volunteering opportunities here or approach a charity of community group you know.
It can difficult to understand and acknowledge how you’re feeling. At Newcastle United Foundation, we are here to help and while we don’t offer mental health services, there are so many organisations that do, all day, every day.
If you need urgent help because you’re worried about hurting yourself or taking your own life, call 999 or go to your nearest A&E department. Samaritans are there for you, 24/7 – call 116 123 or email email@example.com.
If you think you might be experiencing a mental health problem that isn’t an emergency, the first step is to see your GP to discuss what’s going on and start your journey to better mental health.
A range of peer support groups for anxiety-based mental health problems – including anxiety disorders, panic disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder – are available through Anxious Minds North East.
For support with issues around drugs and alcohol, Newcastle’s Road to Recovery Trust is a great place to start and their George Street Social is an informal place to meet people in a supportive environment.
If you feel like you’re struggling with gambling or are worried someone you know may be experiencing gambling issues, the NHS offers support online and can point you in the direction of organisations offering free counselling.
It can be really useful to keep track of your mental and physical state – you can do this in a journal or diary, or through an app on your phone. Alpha Complex was developed right here in Newcastle.
If you’re still not sure where to turn, we recommend calling the Mind Infoline on 0300 123 3393 or visit their website for further information and helplines available. You can also find mental health services and support at our Tyneside and Northumberland Mind. There are also some great links to support provided by Time to Change.
Join our inclusive Be A Game Changer Facebook group for peer support, advice and campaign information.
Follow our campaign on Twitter for mental health tips and advice, updates on wellness events, workshops, and more.
Alternatively, download our Be A Game Changer Business Toolkit as your guide to running a health and wellbeing campaign in the workplace.