A version of this article appears in the February issue of the Edinburgh Reporter

An Edinburgh football team formed in memory of a young man lost to suicide has joined forces with Support in Mind Scotland to encourage players to open up and talk about their emotions and feelings.

Mental Mechanics FC were formed last year as a tribute to Edinburgh University graduate Charlie Tull (below), who passed away at the age of 24 after a struggle with mental illness, and the club have joined the ranks of the Lothian and Edinburgh Amateur Football Association.

Unfortunately, after a couple of pre-season friendlies the league programme was placed on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but while the lads wait to return to action they have been continuing to meet online and hold monthly mental health drop-in sessions.

Fin Anderson, who founded the club with Jon Fraser, explained: “We wanted to remember our friend Charlie and set up a club where people felt safe to talk about mental health. If we can start the conversation, it can help make individuals realise they are not alone in their struggles. Football is a fantastic sport to simply have fun, let off some steam and improve your wellbeing

“At the club, we aim to make everyone feel supported and direct people to further mental health services and advice provided by charities such as Support in Mind Scotland, who we are delighted to start a partnership with.”

Charlie and some of the team used to live in Forres, and the name Mechanics was chosen as a nod to the Highland League club which plays in the northern town.

To complement the distinctive team name, Mental Mechanics have designed their own eye-catching badge and kits. “The strips are pink to represent the brain and to encourage people to notice what the club is doing to help start the conversation on mental health,” Fin explained.

He added: “We have already raised over £5,000 with outstanding support from individual donations and from our sponsors: Mosset Consulting, Simpsons Garden Services, and Diggers pub. Additionally, during the height of lockdown we raised money through a FIFA competition.

“The aim at the end of each season will be to give away a proportion of money raised to a mental health charity. We now have two mental health charity partners who support us with additional support for individuals. Support in mind and CALM.

“We want to play our part in raising mental health awareness, encouraging people to talk about their feelings and to seek help when they need it” - Fin Anderson

“As part of our new partnership, Support in Mind have further supported us in organising a once a month mental health drop-in session for the members at the club, looking at a range of topics.”

Fin and his team-mates can’t wait until restrictions are lifted and they can hold these sessions face-to-face, and also get their boots back on to start training again.

“We are desperate to get back to playing some football,” he says. “We want to have fun playing football, but we also want to play our part in raising mental health awareness, encouraging people to talk about their feelings and to seek help when they need it.

“It’s a massive issue in Scotland and who knows, it would be great to see if some of the bigger clubs in Scotland or the SFA paid some attention to us and maybe we could come together to highlight mental health issues in our country.”

Support in Mind Scotland provides mental health support to more than 1,300 people each weekl throughout the country, including from its Edinburgh service at The Stafford Centre in Broughton Street. Spokesman Colin Leslie said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Mental Mechanics. We really applaud Fin and the boys for the novel way they have chosen to remember Charlie by generating important conversations about mental health among young men through their love of football.”

  • Support in Mind Scotland’s National Information line is open Monday to Friday during office hours on 0300 323 1545.
  • You can learn more about Mental Mechanics on their website: https://www.mentalmechanicsfc.co.uk/

Main picture courtesy of Joshua Hoehne