Referee Mental Health Champions

Mental Health

Advice and Support for Grassroots Match Officials


Advice and Support for Officials Across the County

Our Mental Health Champions Scheme, in conjunction with The Football Association, provides advice and support for Essex County FA-registered grassroots match officials across the county.

As part of the scheme, Essex’s volunteers Adam Gordon and Gary Telling, from within the grassroots refereeing community, champion the importance of mental wellbeing, encourage conversation and act as points of contact for any match officials aged 18 or over experiencing mental health problems, helping to signpost towards professional support services if required.

This transformative scheme creates an open environment so everyone involved in the refereeing community in Essex can talk openly about mental health and be supported. Having Gary and Adam in role it will allow us, as a County FA, to further support all of our referees off the pitch and signpost them to the services available.

As a founding signatory of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation and the Heads Up Mentally Healthy Football Declaration, The FA have worked closely with Mind to co-design the Mental Health Champion role and help tackle the stigma of mental health within refereeing.

The mental health and wellbeing of people is more important now than ever, and The FA is committed to putting important steps in place to support our grassroots match officials. If you’re an Essex match official who would like to have a confidential conversation, please first make contact with Adam or Gary via E-Mail below.

referee mental health champion

adam gordon

Adam has been a referee in Essex for many years. He is currently a Level Six and continues to enjoy refereeing, hoping to do it for many more years to come. As a husband and father of two (one of whom, his daughter, is following in his footsteps and has now qualified as a referee), Adam has experienced the world of mental illness through some family members.

He’s extremely passionate about three key principles of mental health, namely: removing the stigma;  encouraging sufferers to feel safe to talk to someone about their mental illness; building a much better network in wider society of help points for sufferers so nobody finds themselves waiting any longer than necessary for the help they need and deserve.

Adam Gordon
Gary Telling
referee mental health champion

Gary Telling

Gary has been involved in football since the age of ten before becoming a referee, for the second time, in 2010 and he remains an active Level Five referee, Mentor and Observer. Gary has recently completed a degree in Psychodynamics from the University of Essex, which helped him to become more reflective and open up to others more.

He completed his degree whilst continuing to operate as Inclusion Lead at a primary school in South Essex, where he works with children who cannot always cope in a class setting, as well as supporting staff with any day-to-day issues. In all of his roles, Gary is an advocate of everyone talking to someone when they have an issue or problem.

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