Chaplains Undergo Mental Health Awareness Training

Sep 25, 2020

Chaplains with Soccer Chaplains United recently were offered the chance to receive mental health awareness training through an opportunity created in collaboration with the Global Sports Chaplaincy Association (GSCA) and Sports Chaplaincy — UK (SCUK). SCUK National Director of Scotland, Mark Fleming, led the two-hour zoom training session which helped identified particular mental health issues that exist within professional sport and how chaplains might maintain a good level of mental health themselves and for those they serve.

Mark’s work in sports chaplaincy began with serving as Chaplain to Partick Thistle FC in 1998 and after nine years began gradually to source, train and appoint chaplains at other Scottish football clubs. Today, over 110 Scottish football clubs have chaplains and Mark has now begun to develop chaplaincy in other sports such as rugby, shinty and in gyms. Mark gained an MA in Sports Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care in 2016 and is also senior director and trainer with Positive Mental Health Scotland.

For chaplains, one of the key issues and points of ministry includes having a keen awareness of mental health issues that confront many within the context of sport, especially soccer. There is stigma attached into mental health issues and many in soccer don’t even realize that they are suffering or struggling with particular issues of mental health. In fact, there is a high degree of misnomer around the differences between mental health and mental illness, a point Mark highlighted,

We often get mixed up between mental health and mental illness. We all have mental health, but sometimes our mental health borders on having a mental illness, and that’s where we need help.

Mark Fleming, SCUK Scotland National Director

As well as identifying and speaking to the differences with mental health and mental illness, the presentation covered steps toward positive mental health. Each step and activity designed to reinforce and help a person build up a strong mentality — especially important in the difficult and turbulent times facing sports people and the world.

Mark has recently published a book, Confessions of a Football Chaplain.

Soccer Chaplains United is non-profit, 501(c)3 and depends upon the financial support of individual donors and church partners to help fund and resource our chaplain’s continuing education needs which enable us to continue to develop a high level of chaplaincy service across all levels of soccer. Please consider making a contribution today to help us continue to subsidize training and education of our chaplains.

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