To mark World Mental Health Day, Everton midfielder Tom Davies met Ryan, a participant on Everton in the Community’s [EitC] Imagine Your Goals programme.
Ryan, 23, suffered with poor mental health after having a heart problem detected aged 18.
He told Tom about his past – and ongoing – issues and detailed how his life has charted an upwards trajectory since joining Imagine Your Goals seven months ago.
The pair struck up an instant rapport, founded on a shared love of football and mutual respect.
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EitC’s award-winning Imagine Your Goals initiative employs football as a tool to tackle mental illness.
EitC has been delivering life-changing and life-saving mental health provision across Merseyside for more than 12 years, supporting all members of society, and aims to do even more through The People’s Place.
The purpose-built facility close to Goodison Park will be open to anyone to provide support relating to suicide awareness and prevention, as well as promoting positive mental health.
Liverpool supporter Ryan ignored club loyalties when he was directed to Imagine Your Goals and he told Tom about the “opportunities of a lifetime” the EitC scheme has provided – colourfully detailing a match-winning penalty in Italy and subsequent Duncan Ferguson-esque shirt-twirling celebration.
“I’ve gone from a shy lad who wouldn’t speak to anyone, who was so anxious, to someone who went to Italy and won a big international tournament,” says Ryan.
“Everyone on the programme has different illnesses, we all help each other… we are like brothers.
“I couldn’t thank Everton more for what they have done for me.”
Find out more about The People’s Place at peoplesplace.net