Sol Alidor-Hamilton leads mental health workshop with Academy scholars

As Tuesday, September 7 represents Youth Mental Health Day, we’re speaking to Justin Fashanu Mental Health Ambassador Sol Alidor-Hamilton on a recent mental health workshop he led at the Academy.

U18s right-back Alidor-Hamilton was used to life on the pitch but stepped up to the unfamiliar challenge as a Justin Fashanu Mental Health Ambassador in May with open arms.

Since then, Sol, alongside Tony Springett and Jon McCracken, has become an outlet for his teammates to discuss mental wellbeing with.

Four months into his role, the young right-back led a mental health workshop with his fellow U18s teammates, discussing their relationships with each other both in game and away from it.

“I got the boys in a little chat, we set it up as first-year and second-year scholars split into groups.”, he said. “We spoke a lot about how we better each other, how we improve ourselves on the pitch and what goes wrong in the changing room as well and how we can come together more. Talking about stuff like that with the group helps bond us and keep our minds focused.”

Speaking on his experiences in the role so far, Sol feels as if it’s just one way he can achieve his target of helping others around him.

“It’s good to get involved in my role because mental health is one of the main things in football. Good mental health gives you a better chance of having a good game on the pitch because your head will be in the game, you won’t be distracted from your role.

“Helping other people is something I want to do, especially if I’m trying to better my teammates and everyone around me to have a better life with good mental health.

“Talking about mental health is a big part, if you keep stuff in it will take you off your game so easily.

“Talking about it and having the courage to discuss problems is a step to the next level in trying to better yourself. Helping yourself and having that control with confidence is a big step.”

Head of player care Clive Cook was more than happy to see Sol’s workshop with his teammates, noting the Mental Health Ambassador’s impact across the Academy since their forming.

“With much more awareness around mental health, a cultural change is very much evident as athletes find the courage to speak about their challenges.

“It’s really encouraging that top athletes in their respective sports, Simone Biles, Ben Stokes, Naomi Osaka and Adam Peaty have all taken breaks from their work to allow themselves to recover emotionally before returning more mentally refreshed .

“With the Justin Fashanu Ambassadors, we are keen to continue develop the culture around mental health and within these encouraging conversations on the challenges that will impact on mental health and wellbeing.

“Within this, we have noticed a change where players are coming forward to talk much more openly to seek support. Carys [Dalton, FP & YDP player care manager] has also noted recently that there has been an increase in players of a younger age seeking support and wanting to talk about how they are feeling, the things that might be impacting their wellbeing and looking for some advice on how to manage this.

“Carys is so pleased about this, if we can create a culture within our nine and ten-year old’s, that speaking up and asking for help is a good thing, by the time they reach adolescence and adulthood, talking will come naturally, hopefully removing the stigma around mental health completely.”

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