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What My On Your Side Pin Badge Means to Me

Wednesday, 09 January 2019 Robert

Robert is 46, a happy husband, proud parent and a Southend United FC supporter.

Robert shares what his On Your Side pin badge means to him.

My name is Robert, I’m 46 and happy husband, proud parent and a Southend United FC supporter.

Having experienced mental health issues for several years, more so in the last 5 years, I feel my On Your Side pin badge gives me comfort and support.

By displaying my badge it not only provides awareness of this amazing charity, it also provides the opportunity to have a discussion about what it is and why I display it.

"As a football fan, I think it is fantastic that the EFL are helping to raise awareness."

I am excited to see that from the start of the 2018/2019 season, the 72 English Football League (EFL) clubs are displaying the Mind logo on each of the football tops worn during matches, and the managers of these clubs are wearing a pin badge in the colour of their team. The badge says ‘On Your Side’, which I think is a fitting slogan. As a football fan, I think it is fantastic that the EFL are helping to raise awareness of Mind and are using the large audience that football has to spread the word, to help improve the nation’s awareness and the approach to mental health and wellbeing. It will also offer support to players, staff and volunteers, raise vital funds for support.

I am not a great socialiser and sometimes feel uncomfortable around people I am not familiar with. But for me, football offers me a realise mechanism and has seen me meet and speak to people who ordinarily I would not. Having supported Southend United FC for over 35 years I have visited different areas of the country and enjoyed seeing new places. Even if I am feeling low I will go and watch my team. I could feel like I am going through the motions when sitting there, but it gets me out and it feels secure and familiar. I love the way football brings people together, and you speak to someone and they tell you who their team is and the conversation then flows. So by introducing the Mind logo to shirts, the managers wearing the badge, and now fans being able to get their own team colour badge, I believe it can offer more people to talk and know people are there for them and someone is listening to them.

"I love the way football brings people together."

Having reflected on my own personal experience, I think I have always suffered with anxiety. As a small boy I recall worrying about different things, but I guess I never thought anything of it at the time. Then there have been times in my life when I have not been aware of being anxious, and remember times when I have been confident and perhaps carefree.

I think it all came to a head after my dad passed away in 2010, although at the time I felt I had coped and grieved well. I perhaps took on a few more responsibilities looking out for my mum, but I had tried to help out when my dad first become ill a few years earlier so I did not think anything of it. In the period before and a while after my dad passed away I worked from home in business with my wife. I loved what we did and enjoyed being around all the time to watch my daughters grow. However, we had always agreed that once they started school we would look to wind the business down and for me to get a more stable job, with my wife being able to stay at home and support our girls with school, clubs etc.

"It was when I changed jobs that my anxiety started to become apparent."

It was when I changed jobs that my anxiety started to become apparent. Whilst I had worked in a customer service industry for over 25 years, I suddenly developed a phobia of answering the telephone. I was so shocked when this happened, and everything got too much for me and was eventually signed off from work. With good support, I built myself back up and developed well for a couple of years. I even felt strong enough to apply for a promotion and I succeeded.

But prior to starting I become very anxious and not long after starting the new role, I was so nervous and panicked about the work that I was signed off again. After some time I returned, but still did not feel right, and whilst driving to work one day had a strange thought that it would be good to crash my car. I did not go through with it as I thought of the impact and inconvenience to others and of course my family, but it scared me and saw me get signed off for a longer period of time. I was also medically redeployed and went back to my lower scale position. Once again with good support I worked well and felt strong enough to take on more responsibility until it all became too much for me again.

This is where I am now. I am getting more fantastic support from family, friends, work and having counselling. I also get comfort from the partnership that Mind and the EFL have formed.

I think it is so important for people to know it is ok to speak out about how they are feeling and not feel it is something to be ashamed of. I’m proud to wear the new EFL/Mind badge in my club colours of Southend United.

"The love and support I have personally received over the years has been phenomenal."

By wearing my badge, it can offer me the chance to share my experiences, if appropriate to do so, but also allows someone else to respond with their experiences. It could be the other person asks what the badge is about and could lead on to them opening up for the first time about their circumstances, which can in turn allow me to offer support or give them the confidence to open up to a family member, work colleague or a professional. This in turn could lead them to getting the support they need.

The love and support I have personally received over the years has been phenomenal. If by displaying my badge it allows me to have a conversation with someone else which supports/ helps them, then I know the badge has done a marvellous thing and I am proud and honoured to in turn support someone else that needs help.

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