Mental health accessibility at FOCAL events - ideas/suggestions please

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Callum Todd
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Mental health accessibility at FOCAL events - ideas/suggestions please

Post by Callum Todd » Tue Feb 04, 2020 8:26 pm

Hello.

Last year, FOCAL remarked on World Mental Health Day that FOCAL events are a great way to spend time playing an enjoyable and mentally stimulating game with like-minded people. This year, we're looking at ways we can ensure all FOCAL events are accessible to people who suffer with anxiety.

Obviously co:events are social events, which is naturally going to present a challenge for people with social anxiety. But it is our hope that we can do better than we have done before to make sure nobody should avoid a FOCAL event, or have a bad experience at it, because of anxiety.

One idea that has been proposed by a couple of people to help with this is a 'buddy' system. Under this system, anxious attendees could request to be buddied up with somebody who could help navigate them through the format of the tournament (especially if they're new to events) and make sure they always have a familiar, safe, friendly face to talk to if they are struggling on day.

If the player brings along a friend or family member, we could explain the format and itinerary of the day to that person could assist their companion throughout the event. If not, the player could request to be paired up with a friendly, experienced volunteer player who (while still being able to take part in the event themselves) could introduce themselves to the person requesting a buddy and be available for help and reassurance at any time it may be required. (If it is too daunting for the player to have to speak to the host about their anxiety to request this, they could simply put 'buddy please' or similar in a note on their PayPal payment for the day).

This system would not be mandatory for all events, and at first would be advertised as being used on a trial basis. It would simply be a note on the event page on the FOCAL website saying 'buddy system available for players with anxiety', with a link to an explanation of the system.

How do you all feel about this idea? Will it work? Is it worth pursuing? I intend to trial it at Edinburgh this June so if it is required there, hopefully we can get some feedback on its viability.

And do any of you have any other ideas or suggestions for how we can make FOCAL events more accessible to people with anxiety or mental health issues? Physical accessibility of events is something that's seen an increased focus over the past few years of FOCAL, and I think it's now time to look at mental health accessibility too, especially in a community such as ours that naturally seems to attract a disproportionately high number of neurodiverse or mentally ill people.

Naturally this can be a rather sensitive subject. Please if you have any stories or experiences to relate here, please remember that this is a public forum and use discretion, ask permission of any involved people before making reference to them or their experience, and remove/alter any details that could be used to identify any individuals.
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L'oisleatch McGraw
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Re: Mental health accessibility at FOCAL events - ideas/suggestions please

Post by L'oisleatch McGraw » Wed Feb 05, 2020 12:26 am

Callum Todd wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 8:26 pm
This system would not be mandatory for all events, and at first would be advertised as being used on a trial basis. It would simply be a note on the event page on the FOCAL website saying 'buddy system available for players with anxiety', with a link to an explanation of the system.
If it was mandatory, there would be an onus on FOCAL to enforce it, and to finance it (i.e. the buddy would need to be paid).

Sounds like a very good and thoughtful idea though...
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