‘Tricky to Talk’ is a collaborative programme created by Nottingham Forest Football Club and Nottingham Forest Community Trust. The programme aims to encourage fans and people across our communities to talk more openly about their mental health, raise awareness and reduce stigma relating to mental ill health. We have our own ‘Tricky Hubs’, which are relaxed informal sessions where you can talk to others who may be experiencing mental health difficulties, share your experiences or simply get involved in a casual chat about Nottingham Forest.
Beth has been involved in the programme since its early stages and it’s been amazing to see the progress she has made. Beth has not only gained a lot more confidence since first coming to the sessions, but she’s made friends and has said that her mental health has improved as a result.
Beth was asked if she would take part in an interview with Nottingham Forest Supporters’ Trust and this is what she had to say…
1) Please tell us about yourself and how you became a Forest fan…
I’m Bethany and I feel like I have been a Forest fan since I can remember. I started playing football aged around six or seven and with an older brother supporting Forest, I think I naturally became interested in going to watch football as well as playing it.
I was really getting into the club in the 2005-06 season, watching the likes of Wes Morgan, Grant Holt and Nathan Tyson. But the first memory that was burnt into my brain was losing to Yeovil in the play-offs. As a young girl, I was shocked when I saw grown men sat on the floor crying. I don’t think I really understood why. As a 23-year-old and after the disappointing end to last season, I now totally understand how they felt!
2) How did you become aware of the Tricky to Talk campaign?
I first became aware of the Tricky to Talk campaign through the video that was released and the social media campaign that went around it. Later I saw on Twitter that they were advertising a ’Tricky Hub’ for people struggling with their mental health or generally struggling with life, for people over age of 18.
As I had recently moved home after trying and failing to hold down a job in my university city due to my mental health, I decided it was worth at least giving the hubs an opportunity, knowing that I could always pull out if it wasn’t for me! At the time I didn’t really have much support as I had only just moved back home, and I didn’t really know what support I wanted or needed. I saw it was a different type of support group than others being advertised and the fact that it was at The City Ground was a bonus!
3) How has the programme helped you personally?
The Tricky Hub has become an important lifeline for me over the last 15 months and a valuable source of support during this current pandemic. It has been somewhere I could get to understand my new diagnosis of an eating disorder in a non-judgemental environment. It’s somewhere I felt I could have a moan or chat about a difficult counselling session and somewhere I felt safe enough to talk about other issues.
Moving to having sessions over Zoom during lockdown, we have been having check-ins and doing quizzes which has made us realise how good or bad we are at general knowledge! Tricky Hub is there for us to be able to talk about how we feel, as well as having a laugh along the way. As well as getting to know each other more on a personal level and becoming friends.
4) How does being part of the Nottingham Forest family help with good mental health?
Last summer after the campaign launched, I was just tweeting about how I was struggling and suddenly a few Forest fans noticed my tweets and reached out to me and supported me during a difficult time. Since then, I feel that I can talk to various Forest fans online when I am struggling, and I appreciate they will reach out to me if they can see I’m struggling.
Being a part of the fanbase is like being a part of a family, we all share the same highs and lows of following the team, as well as supporting each other and celebrating together.
5) Tell us about the Forest shirt you recently received…
I received a call from Danielle at the Community Trust who told me about what the club and EFL were doing for World Mental Health Day. I was being given a new home shirt! The support I received when Forest put out the tweet and photograph was over whelming but I really appreciated the support shown to me. I was honestly over the moon!
It was comforting to know that the club and Community Trust appreciated and recognised everything I had been though and appreciated my support of the Tricky Hubs from the first session, and how much I had opened up over the year.
6) Why would you recommend the Tricky Hubs to other supporters?
The Tricky Hub has supported me so much during lockdown. We are a small group, so it really isn’t intimidating in the slightest. We talk about how things have been going and chat about how Forest are getting on. It’s become a space where I can be myself. I don’t have to put a front on if I am feeling worried or anxious. It’s somewhere I feel safe and a sense of belonging.
Claire, who leads the group, has given us the opportunity to talk to various mental health professionals over the summer which has helped me to understand and overcome some of my issues. I’ve made great friends; the hubs have improved my mental health and I’d recommend joining the Tricky Hubs to any Forest supporter who needs help or support.