A FORMER footballer has called on people to help ‘normalise’ talking about mental health issues as part of a charity’s five-year celebration.

Ynot Aspire invited schools and agencies from throughout the area to a celebration and consultation day which featured a keynote speech from Clarke Carlisle.

As well as celebrating fives years of lottery funding for the charity, the aim of the day was to talk about young people’s mental health provision, especially around prevention and early intervention.

Mr Carlisle won promotion with Burnley to the Premier League in 2009 and battled with depression throughout his career.

He attempted suicide in December 2014 when he stepped out in front of a lorry.

The 37-year-old said: “We shouldn’t be talking about mental health it should just be health.

“When I first had problems back in 2001 I was told to go have a drink, that was the coping mechanism, that was just the norm at the time, it was the knowledge we had.

“There is so much more there to help people these days. We’ve got to normalise talking about these issues.

“I’ve done corporate speaking before, but this is the first time I’ve done it for higher education pupils, it’s my new passion.

“The more we can do together to raise awareness the better.”

After finishing his talk at the event detailing his career in football and battles with depression, the centre-half was greeted by many guests who came to thank him for the talk he gave.

Pupils and staff from Hollins Technology College and Accrington Academy attended alongside representatives form Hyndburn Homes, Lancashire Wellbeing Service, Young Mind and the police.

The event at Accrington Town Hall was held as the charity has come to the end of its current set of funding, after it received £385,000 in January 2012.

However in November it was announced it had been awarded a further £481,000 from The Big Lottery funding to support its work with vulnerable youths.

Chief officer Sharon Burch said: “We’ve had lots of organisations from across the area come forward to help us work with young people.

“Young people are at the heart of everything we do, and for them mental health problems are a prevalent topic.

“Clarke was absolutely amazing, he spoke about some really emotional topics, it was really engaging for the young people.”

Ynot Aspire is based at Hyndburn Community and Voluntary Resource Centre in Accrington.