Doncaster Knights with young people - Safety Nets Initiative.jpg

Young people in Doncaster with mental health needs can now join a squad and during their scrum get health advice.

As the town gears up to mark World Mental Health Day on October 10 a new initiative has been launched to support young people with mental health issues.

Doncaster Knights Rugby Club at Castle Park has joined forces with local health trust, Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) to run a project called Safety Nets.

The initiative is the brainchild of Dr Ryan Dias, a speciality trainee in psychiatry and Leadership Fellow in Physical Health and Mental Health Quality Improvement who has been supported by RDaSH staff Karen Smithers and Danielle Leighton.

Ryan said: “The project aims to create therapy groups for children to improve their mental and emotional wellbeing. The groups run at Doncaster Knights for eight weeks with each weekly group focusing on different aspects of physical and mental health. 

“Each group runs for two hours after school in term time, the first hour focussing on physical activity which is led by Doncaster Knights players, and the second hour focusing on psychoeducation, led by staff from Doncaster’s Children and Young People’s Mental Health Service (CAMHS).”

Barbara Murray, RDaSH’s manager for CAMHS, said: “The rugby club is at the heart of the community in Doncaster and young people are of admiration of the players, this supports the message around mental health and helps to reduce the stigma of mental health.  It is great to have the young people and CAMHS staff doing rugby training and physical exercise side-by-side instead of being in a clinic setting.”

Doncaster Knights Commercial Manager Michael Casey added: “We are delighted to be able to play an active role in such an important initiative. As a club we are really invested in the local community and particularly in the wellbeing of the town’s young people. We hope to be able to work with CAMHS and to help more children in the future.”

Young people are referred to the scheme via CAMHS staff.

Meanwhile a range of other events are also taking place in Doncaster to mark World Mental Health Day.

Dr David Crichton, Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group Chairman, will be attending Club Doncaster Foundation – Fit Rovers, health and wellbeing initiative at Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium to support a discussion about the importance of mental wellbeing.

David said: “It’s great to see organisations from across Doncaster come together and increase awareness for World Mental Health Day. Mental health problems affect around one in four of us in any given year and it’s really important people know there is support available to help.”

And the People Focussed Group (PFG), a community group in Intake, Doncaster, will be doing a walk around the town visiting various places to raise awareness of mental health.