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Frankfurt & Birmingham Mental Health Connection
by Edwin Martin
In Sept 2004 I was invited, as well as 3 other service users and two staff, to go to Frankfurt to an International Psychiatric Conference. We met up with our German friends and were shown around a day centre and cafe. The conference included delegates from France, Poland, Hungary as well as different states in Germany. The staff representatives from the Mental Health Trust gave presentations about the Birmingham Home treatment teams.
Another link up with our Frankfurt colleagues for a football tournament took place in June 2006. Alan Parker, Lead officer, with 3 other staff and 8 service users from Birmingham plus 2 staff and 6 service users from Solihull jetted off to Frankfurt. Funding for this event has come from the Mental Health Trust Charity and The City Council of Birmingham. A banner was made to promote sport and mental health against stigma and discrimination.
The group linked up with SHIFT* to promote the campaign "Football Against Stigma and Prejudice in Mental Health" and with the England Fans Federation to promote a positive image of English Football. Banners were exchanged between sides.
The tournament was played on Saturday 10th June (the morning of England's first game in the 2006 FIFA World Cup) with English and German service users playing against England and German Fans. A combined England/Germany team won the tournament. Representatives from the Football Association were present and presented Alan Parker with an England pennant signed by Sven-Goran Eriksson in appreciation of the work done to make the visit a success. SKY Television and other media companies covered the event.
The Football Association has made a commitment to help local football teams with players who have mental health problems arranging fixtures via their website. SHIFT is also working with the Professional Footballers Association, The Football Foundation, The England and Wales Cricket Board, and the organisers of the 2012 Olympics to raise awareness and understanding of mental health through sport.
If you have similar stories about European collaboration in sport or other areas of mental health to inform our readers please let Perceptions editorial panel know.
* For more information about SHIFT visit their web site www.shift.org.uk/football