As a BA (Hons) Football Coaching & Management student, Alexander Ellison spoke openly about his struggles with mental health in an attempt to normalise discussions around the taboo topic.

For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we caught up with the UCFB Etihad Campus graduate about how he coped with the isolation of lockdown and how he manages his mental health today.

Alexander said: “I know how important it is to speak about mental health and I am still grateful that I was brave enough to go to a counselling session at UCFB which has made my life so much better. In the pandemic it has been so difficult not going out, seeing less or little of friends and it has become very easy to be isolated.”

He added: “During this time some ways I found to keep my spirits up were going out of the house on different routes, sometimes listening to a new podcast or just taking in the great outdoors and new environments that were on my doorstep. I have also been messaging anyone who was struggling through the hard times and sharing experiences to show people they are not alone.”

Since graduating in 2019, Alexander has worked as a volunteer coach for Kixx, an organisation who strive to create positive change for children through football. He's also previously worked for FC United of Manchester, a community-run club based in Morton, where he delivered multi-sports sessions designed to engage children in the local community.

Alexander said: “In my roles I am challenged with creating fun, safe and engaging sessions for children to learn and play using football as the vehicle for delivery. We are constantly aiming to get children in the area to lead healthy and active lifestyles and promote sport and the life skills it can teach children, which are important for their mental health.”

While studying at UCFB, Alexander was on a panel with Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, amongst others, to discuss young people’s experiences with mental health as part of the Stamp Out Stigma initiative. Click here to read the full article.