Head's Up Participants on the pitch at Montgomery Waters Meadow

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week we are highlighting the story of Matthew Worrall, one of our Head’s Up participants who attends the weekly football sessions at the Community Football Hub.

Matthew is 20 years old and lives with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and EUPD (Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder). He began attending our Head’s Up sessions around a year and a half ago and spoke out about how these sessions have helped his condition and confidence since he started.

Matthew describes his condition as ‘”meaning that I see things as being very black and white and there is no middle ground. As an example my Grandad developed cancer which was very treatable and within a couple of months it could be gone, but when my Mum told me about it, all I heard was ‘cancer’. To me he could only be perfectly healthy or was going to pass away. It means that I take things very literally and I’m more prone to getting angry. If someone tries to joke with me, I more than likely think they are being serious and are actually insulting me. I’ve lost a lot of friends because of it but that has mostly been those who are either negative in my life or just don’t understand the illness. They’d say things like ‘just don’t take things literally’ and obviously I can’t, it’s a mental health condition. If I don’t take my tablets I will probably flip out and want to end my life.”

He was first brought to the Head’s Up sessions through being a patient at the Redwood Centre in Shrewsbury. The sessions are delivered by Shrewsbury Town in the Community coaches  at the Community Football Hub and aim to provide space for patients from the centre to play and enjoy football in a relaxed and friendly environment in order to help with their conditions. Mathew told us how important playing football has been for him to meet new friends and give him something to look forward to in the week. “I used to play football at Sunday league level but then I started to move away from it until it was one of the activities offered through Redwood and Shrewsbury Town in the Community. Football was one of the things that at least got me out of the hospital for a bit, meeting new people. I see it as something that helps because it takes your mind off of everything else and it’s a way to escape from all the other stuff. Coming here is the highlight of my week. I meet people who are in similar scenarios to me, they might have a different diagnosis, but we’re all here together and there is no judgement, they’re all really nice guys and compared to playing in Sunday league there is a lot less pressure. It does feel like a family here, I know if I came here on a Thursday and said ‘guys I’ve had a really bad week’ everyone would make sure I’m okay, Harry and Jordan are amazing and always check we’re okay and obviously it couldn’t happen without them.” 

On top of this the sessions help Matthew to manage his condition and its effects; the tablets he is prescribed mean that he gains weight very easily, so playing football every week allows him to manage this easier along with improving his overall outlook on bad days. “The sessions do help in more ways than I can actually say. I think without them the people who come here would be in a lot worse situations. Knowing you have something to look forward to every week makes every day better, if Wednesday is bad I know that on Thursday I still get to go play football. I’ve made so many friends here and I genuinely don’t know what my life would be without it, there are so many people who might be having a horrible time but for one hour we get to run around, laughing and joking and I am able to just forget about it. It helps me to realise that I’m not in as bad a position as I thought.”  

As part of our Play on the Pitch week, Matthew got the opportunity to play at Montgomery Waters Meadow along with the rest of the Head’s Up participants, which gave him another experience to savour.  “I’ve never played on a professional pitch before so playing today I was thinking ‘if I score a goal, that’s it, that’s my dream for today done’ and that just helps so much.” 


See more about our Head’s Up sessions

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