Joe Martin was already struggling with his mental health and had been referred to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) when he tragically lost his father to suicide in 2018.
Joe’s primary form of escapism continues to be football, but last year, the 13-year-old began to suffer from anxiety within a footballing environment, causing him to become nervous about playing in matches.
PNE Joins As Football Unites To Kick Off Biggest Ever Conversation On Mental Health5 February 2020
“I was first referred to CAHMS, I think it was about three years ago, which was due to mental health issues which I had,” said Joe.
“My dad died of suicide. We were about to just start thinking about moving on and living a regular life again and that happened, so that brought a whole bunch of other reasons why I should have CAMHS.”
The Lune Valley FC player, of Lancaster, first came into contact with PNECET when his mother, Jenny Rigby, sent the Trust an email in the hope of finding health and support for Joe through football.
With all EFL Clubs being partnered with the mental health charity Mind, Jenny emailed Assistant Head of the Trust, Harriet Creighton-Levis, to understand how PNECET could help. Jenny revealed that, as part of his work with CAMHS, Joe had learned that rediscovering his confidence and enjoyment of sport could prove one of the best routes to aid his recovery.
By his own admission, Joe could not have imagined what would follow.
Harriet met Joe at his school, to listen to and understand his needs, which led to him being invited for a ground tour of Deepdale – an exciting first step of a bespoke programme designed by PNECET to develop his resilience, communication, confidence and leadership.
Joe soon learned that much more was in store for him, and that he’d be attending the club’s training ground for a morning of behind the scenes excitement.
“I was very overwhelmed at what I’d be doing and I found out all about how I’d get to see PNE’s stadium,” said Joe.
“I didn’t expect to be here [at the training ground], I don’t know what I was expecting but this is great. I’ve managed to get two t-shirts, one off Declan Rudd and one from Paul Gallagher, they signed both of them, and I got some boots off Louis Moult.
“I watched them all train, I had a great start to the day – I think it’s probably the best start to the day I’ve ever had.”
In addition, Joe has been attending home matches on a regular basis and helping staff from the Trust with their matchday activities, including the organisation of the half-time penalty shootouts for primary school children.
As part of his programme with PNECET, Joe has been helping PNECET staff as an assistant coach for young children on our half-term soccer school camps for young children.
The final stage of Joe’s programme will be designed to heighten his confidence to the extent that he can lead out out the Preston North End team as mascot for their final home game of the 2019/20 football season at Deepdale.
He is hoping to use the opportunities he has gained through the PNECET-designed programme to inspire other young children who have lost their parents to suicide.
“I want to help other children and other kids and teens like me who have suffered from mental health, parents dying from suicide in particular.”
Find out more and get tips from Heads Up’s charity partners - Mind, CALM, Sporting Chance and Heads Together – visit www.headstogether.org.uk/heads-up.
Those wanting immediate support can also text ‘HeadsUp’ to 85258 to connect with a trained crisis volunteer – a service run by ‘Shout’ and powered by Crisis Text Line, which is available 24/7 and free to text from most mobile networks.