Stansted FC players have rallied behind mental health awareness on Twitter, amid a campaign by Essex Senior League to draw attention to issues such as depression and anxiety.

Essex Senior League has released a series of calls calling for football solidarity behind those suffering mental illness.

Stansted FC left-winger Connor Hammond delivered a call for kindness towards those suffering mental ill-health.

Reacting to the recent death of television presenter Caroline Flack, Stansted centre-back Paul Clayton offered support to anyone who is struggling.

Non-league football has been an important arena to address issues such as mental illness, racism and violence. Premiership football slogans can appear tokenistic, but when players are so close to fans as they are in local football, they can have a more profound impact on the community.

ESL clubs have championed mental health issues. Saffron Walden Town FC pledged their support to teammate Lewis Francis after he spoke out about mental health problems related to his autism and bipolar disorder diagnoses. Walden boss Jason Maher said: “Being a manager is not just about getting results but also helping the people you’re in charge of. All credit to anyone with mental health issues who seek help with it. Asking for help is a difficult thing to do, especially in the macho environment of a dressing room. It’s not a sign of weakness, and thankfully it’s more acceptable in today’s society. The club, myself and his team-mates will all be here to help Lewis.”

Essex Senior League pundits discuss mental health in non-league football

Ryan Maxwell – Walthamstow FC’s manager until last month – has sought to create a hub for mental health support for players. He said: “Football is a very up and down game and I suppose if you’re not stable, then the emotion in football probably isn’t good for you. But if you can talk about it, then it may be better to share it with other people who are struggling with the same thing within football. It would be a cup of tea and a chat and if you can help just a few people and if they know something is there, then it’s worthwhile.”