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Industry

Drink mats encourage mental health talks

A local Bristolian in the print industry has designed and printed a range of drink mats to encourage people to talk to friends about mental health struggles.

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Martin Williamson created the drink mats to encourage mental health conversations following the death of Sean Finnegan

Martin Williamson, owner of Nicholas Gray Print Specialist, says the idea for the drink mats stemmed from the suicide of local footballer, Sean Finnegan, last year.

Aged 28, Finnegan was well known in the Hanham area and played for Hanham Athletics – a local rival team of Aek Boco, Williamson’s football team.

Williamson explains how the week of Finnegan’s death, Hanham Athletics’ first team was due to play Aek Boco’s first team.

He says: “There was talk about whether it should go ahead or not, but it did. Obviously as a mark of respect for Sean. A couple of the lads I was speaking to said he was here quite often, and he seemed absolutely fine.

Quite a lot of the replies were really quite heartfelt and emotional, and it got me thinking ‘Oh crikey, if I hadn’t said that, would some of these lads genuinely not have had anyone to talk to?

“It got me thinking how somebody can live that lie, almost, and try and carry on as normal but get to that stage rather than speaking to someone about your problems.”

Williamson used to run a football team at Aek Boko and reached out to some of its former players to let them know he was there if they needed someone to talk to.

“Quite a lot of the replies were really quite heartfelt and emotional, and it got me thinking ‘Oh crikey, if I hadn’t said that, would some of these lads genuinely not have had anyone to talk to?’” he explains.

Sean Finnegan was well-known in the area and played for Hanham Athletics football team

Williamson decided to use his print background to raise awareness and money for mental health. He has currently designed two drink mats and was inspired by the clubhouse environment.

The designs feature messages which remind people to talk to friends if they are struggling and links to useful websites. They also provide a space for clubs and teams to include their own personal numbers.

With two sports themed designs available to purchase already, Williamson is now working on drink mats for offices and other environments. 100% of profits will be donated to an undecided mental health charity.

There’s something physical to hold. It’s in front of you and it’s not going to go away like if you were flicking through Facebook or something else

Whitehall Printing used Williamson’s design to create the artwork for the mats and specialised beermat printer, Beermats.com, printed them.

Reflecting on why print was chosen to spread the message, Williamson explains: “If you go in club houses, you get the teams come in after. They sit round a table. They’re all chatting – probably emotional after a game – and they’re there on the table and people pick them up.

“There’s something physical to hold. It’s in front of you and it’s not going to go away like if you were flicking through Facebook or something else. Eventually they’re going to look at it and read it and maybe then while they’re with their friends or their teammates they might think ‘Yeah, I could have a quick chat here with somebody’.”

You can purchase a drink mat here: www.Friendsmusttalk.co.uk  



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