THE vice-secretary of a Wee County football team has voiced his support for Mental Health Awareness Week and has encouraged anyone who may be struggling to speak out.

Matthew Hollingworth has ensured that Sauchie Juniors' direct messages on Twitter and Facebook have always been open to anyone who has been struggling throughout the lockdowns over the past year.

"It was probably a personal thing," Matthew said. "I've had some mental health dips over the years and had counselling with Back Onside.

"They really helped me, I know that young men don't really talk enough about that kind of stuff.

"We've got a decent following and anybody that wants to reach out is welcome to do so."

Back Onside is an independent charity which aims to improve the nation's mental health through education, support and inclusion.

The goal of the charity is to help people rebuild their self-esteem by tackling some of the challenges caused by life circumstances.

Matthew believes that the topic of mental health is becoming less of a secret within the world of football, and believes it is a responsibility of clubs to look after their own.

The 27-year-old continued: "I think it's getting a lot more open, we've seen a lot more football teams and players, whether that be part-time or full-time having issues.

"I think it's important, we've got a responsibility to our players and supporters to make sure they have a place to speak out to if they need to."

Matthew praised fellow Wee County football club Alloa Athletic's Man Cave initiative, which aims to offer a safe space for men to get together and relax in a safe environment, and says his own club may do something similar in the future.

He said: "It's just an opportunity for them to have a chat, have a cup of tea or coffee and take their mind off things."

Asked if speaking out about his own issues helped, Matthew replied: "One hundred percent. I think for me, the issue was always just bottling it up, which is never a good thing.

"Sharing definitely does help, it's trying to encourage people there are more options than you think."

The goal of Back Onside is to help people rebuild their self-esteem by tackling some of the challenges caused by social exclusion, disability and other life circumstances.

Sauchie Juniors' messages are always open on Facebook or Twitter and anybody who would like to have a chat is more than welcome to get in touch.