Newcastle Hospitals has joined forces with Newcastle United Foundation to become a Be A Game Changer Champion.
Be A Game Changer is Newcastle United Foundation’s mental health campaign that uses the power of football to engage football fans in conversations about mental health.
Funded by Newcastle City Council, North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Network and Premier League Charitable Fund, it aims to raise awareness of mental health issues and contribute to a reduction in the region’s suicide rate.
Dee Fawcett, Director of Human Resources at Newcastle Hospitals said: “The health and wellbeing of all staff is one of our highest priorities. The last 18 months have been challenging for everyone but the emotional impact it has had on healthcare staff is huge. Staff also have their own lives and pressures outside of work so it is important that we do everything we can to support them.
“By becoming a Be A Game Changer Champion we are strengthening our commitment to promoting mental health awareness and wellbeing amongst our staff.”
Carol Sharpe, nurse specialist in children’s cystic fibrosis at Newcastle Hospitals officially visited St. James’ Park to launch the partnership and find out more about the Be A Game Changer campaign. Carol is passionate about raising awareness around mental health issues after her son Bill tragically died by suicide last year.
Carol said: “As you can expect, nothing can you prepare you for the tidal wave of devastation that a life event such as this can cause – believe me it’s horrible.
“More than anything in the world I’d love to talk to Bill just one last time. To try and help him. To understand what he was feeling.
“Not a day goes by without me feeling the full range of emotions when I think of him, sometimes anger and sadness as you might expect but more often happiness and laughter bolstered by some cracking memories of a lovely lad.
“Most of all however, I’d like to tell him how much I loved him.”
By becoming a Be A Game Changer Champion, the Trust will have access to insight, advice and tools developed by Newcastle United Foundation to encourage mental health awareness and engagement with staff.
Since its launch, Be A Game Changer participants have reported many positive changes following their engagement with the project, including speaking to their GP about their mental health, opening up to someone they know and making positive changes to their lifestyle.
Also visiting St James’ Park with Carol was Joshua Bell, a physiotherapist working in the Newcastle Hospitals Occupational Health team, he said: “Throughout the pandemic our occupational health team have supported the 17,000 healthcare staff within the Trust and we’ve seen an increase in mental health issues.
“Our staff have worked tirelessly, under some of the most difficult circumstances and as a department we have worked to develop our wellbeing support offer for staff. It’s great that we’re able to work with the Foundation to offer that other layer of support.”
Ashley Lowe, health and wellbeing manager, Newcastle United Foundation, said: “Newcastle Hospitals are a superb addition to our Be a Game Changer business champions community. “With such a large and diverse body of staff, we are sure that there will be many football supporters who will find peer support, relatable mental health and wellbeing messaging and relevant information tailored to their needs in a campaign that is focused on our region and our identity as football fans.”