Rangers' Scott Arfield joins family of tragic best friend Chris Mitchell in film marking mental health milestone for Scottish football

Rangers midfielder Scott Arfield has returned to the small screen to film a follow-up tribute to his best friend and former team-mate Chris Mitchell, who died almost five years ago.

Scott Arfield and Philip Mitchell took part in the film 'Mitch: What happened next' detailing progress made in mantal health with the Chris Mitchell Foundation. Arfield was a team-mate of Chris at Falkirk and close friends.
Scott Arfield and Philip Mitchell took part in the film 'Mitch: What happened next' detailing progress made in mantal health with the Chris Mitchell Foundation. Arfield was a team-mate of Chris at Falkirk and close friends.

Arfield was one of the footballer’s friends who took part in the 2018 film ‘Mitch’ which discussed the former Falkirk and Bradford City player’s death. The sequel ‘Mitch: What happened next?’ by the foundation named in his memory and the SPFL Trust details the impact Chris’ legacy has had on Scottish football through Mental Health First Aid Training, which hits a significant milestone this week.

The film co-incides with confirmation that all 42 SPFL league clubs have enrolled in a Mental Health First Aid training scheme and features Chris’ dad Philip alongside Arfield and three training participants.

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Phillip, co-founding trustee of the foundation established with Chris’ sister Laura said: “We miss Christopher every day and set up the foundation in his memory. We want to prevent other families from having to go through the pain that we've been through. No one should have to experience the loss of a loved one to suicide.

“The Mental Health First Aid Training programme has been an enormous success, with over 600 people trained. This is at all levels in the SPFL, Women’s football, and the grassroots game.

“I want to thank the people that have taken part. You’re helping Scottish football have a conversation that is desperately needed. People like you give us hope. Things are changing in the conversation around mental health, and there is no going back.”

The SPFL Trust, which runs courses and works closely with the Chris Mitchell Foundation has noted an increase in demand for the course during the past year’s pandemic highlighting an increasing focus of the importance of mental health.

Scott Arfield said: "I see it in the changing rooms now, people talk, people are far more open, there's no doubt what happened to Chris has changed things massively.

Philip Mitchell returns to The Falkirk Stadium, where son Chris made his name as a professional footballer with Falkirk - scoring a goal against Ajax and earning Scotland under-21 recognition. Philip is a co-trustee of the Chris Mitchell Foundation named in his son's memory.

“Chris was my best friend, he is sorely missed by all of us, every day. But, he will always be remembered. He was so popular and a pleasure to be around. It’s not easy to think about the circumstances around his tragic passing but I am hopeful that our charity work underlines the importance of mental health awareness and training to break the stigma.

“No matter who you are, or the circumstances you face, please don’t give up and speak to people around you for support.”

Positive Mental Health Scotland deliver the training on behalf of the SPFL which aims to identify signs of mental health issues, prevent problems getting worse and to provide comfort and talk about suicide.

Mark Fleming, director, added: “The conversation is changing around mental health, people are starting to realise it is just as important as physical health. Your mental health needs to be nurtured and exercised on a regular basis. We want to help people understand the preventative measures to help others before it becomes too much.”

Scott Arfield races to celebrate a goal with Chris Mitchell against Hamilton Accies in November 2009. Picture: Michael Gillen

Chris Mitchell died by suicide in May 2016, after a period of depression following the end of his football career through injury. He also played for Queen of the South, Ayr United and Clyde and is well-remembered in Falkirk for his winning goal against Ajax in a 2007 friendly match.

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