‘Sorry for sending you a letter at random, but I felt like I wanted to reach out to you’

Written by Paul Stallard

Last week, an amazing story caught my attention.

While many football fans up and down the country were busy celebrating the return of the Premier League, one football club stood out for their actions off the pitch.

Barnsley Football Club sent a supportive letter to lifelong fan Chris Ryder who openly talked about his depression and anxiety on social media.

None of his tweets were about Barnsley, but the social media manager spotted his tweets from previous engagements online with the club. In response, they went above and beyond to reach out to the fan, and sent him a touching letter which he later shared on social media.

The letter read:

“Dear Chris,

“Sorry for sending you a letter at random, but I felt like I wanted to reach out to you to get in touch. I’ve noticed through social media you have had a bit of a hard time recently, I’m not sure what it is but I hope everything improves for you as soon as possible.

“You’ve been a fan of the club for many years and always supported us, so we want you to know that if the favour needs returning and we need to support you, please do let us know.”

“You are welcome to swing by any time. My office door is always open and we’ve finally got a new coffee machine, a huge thanks to Alfie Mawson to that,

“Keep supporting the Reds, Chris. We’ll keep supporting you.

This was no PR stunt by the football club. They had no idea national news outlets would cover this story. It was simply a lovely gesture to a fan which went viral after Chris tweeted an image of the letter along with his appreciation to the club he loves.

In football, mental health is still a taboo subject. Admitting to struggles with anxiety or depression is seen as a sign of weakness in people’s eyes. Research found that one in every four people in the country suffer from mental health issues, and with millions of fans attending matches up and down the country each week, football should be doing everything it can to help.

However, this season, more is being done. The English Football League has partnered with the charity ‘Mind’ to create awareness, raise money and change perceptions of mental health problems.

The logo of Mind will appear on all EFL shirts this season as part of the new style names and numbers being launched for the 2018/19 campaign. The new design will for the first time in English football, incorporate a charity’s logo into the player name on the back of every EFL shirt across all 72 Clubs in the football league.

Despite the crazy amount of money being branded about in English football these days, it’s great to see the Football League creating awareness about a serious issue, and it’s fantastic to see clubs like Barnsley implementing this messaging.

Simple stories with a simple message can be the most powerful. Don’t be afraid to talk about mental health.