Mental Health Case Study

A case study from Iain who has been involved in helping establish an adult ‘turn up and play centre’ to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing in partnership with Cheshire FA. Some background on Iain and how getting back into football has had a positive impact on his life.


I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and panic attacks about 15 years ago. I struggled in crowds and sometimes leaving the house. When I did leave the house, I got panicked and often could not leave my car. I was unable to hold jobs down very well and struggling with life as a whole. Things hit rock bottom at Christmas 2015 with my employer nudging me out of the door on medical reasons and my marriage was in trouble. I couldn’t get off the sofa and spent days on end just staring into space and hiding away, I even had a safety blanket I would wrap myself in (made up of football scarves)

Someone told me to go back to childhood basics and start doing the things you enjoy in life – for me that was football. It took a few months to find any sort of football team that a soon to be 40 year old, 25 stone, manic depressive with anxiety issues would be able to fit into. I stumbled on walking football which partly fitted the bill, but not entirely. I needed a group that understood mental health and how I was feeling and there didn’t seem to be any. I got in contact with the DWF Officer at Cheshire FA and from there the sessions that I now run and play in came about.

Feelings and thoughts before attending the first session – apprehension, nervousness, worried?

Absolute panic. In the first weeks of promoting the session nobody else turned up either, which made me anxious and question if what I was doing was worthwhile.

The first session of walking football I went to, I never managed to leave my car when I arrived at the venue. It was dark, new to me, a scary place and not somewhere I felt I could be. He also worried about being laughed at and mocked.

Feelings and thoughts after attending DWF sessions for a few weeks

Eventually I managed to get out of the car and start playing. I still get all the feeling of panic I got before but I can overcome them a lot easier. I still get the occasional panic attack where I have to grab onto a goalpost for safety, but these are very much less frequent.

Impact that playing football via DWF has had on the participant and their family– socially, psychologically, physically

I feel I have some sort of normal life back. It is still a huge struggle day to day but I have a focus and something to aim for each week. I have re-engaged with friends and family, quit drinking, and got involved in multiple football activities, rather than just watching it on TV. I now coach, play, scout and attend non-league matches. Through this, I am learning social media skills, marketing, getting to attend meetings and connecting with all sorts of people.

Cheshire FA are committed to creating inclusive opportunities to meet the needs of our community.

If you are an individual or organisation that would be interested in finding out more please contact our Football Development Officer (Disability) Wendy on

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