THERE are plenty of demands on your time as a first-year university student, but running a charity is not normally on the list.

For Callum Lea, however, it is all just part of his routine, alongside studying philosophy and politics at Oxford Brookes.

Sporting Minds UK aims to help support young athletes dealing with mental health problems.

The 19-year-old, who was a promising cricketer in Worcestershire’s academy, founded the organisation last year to fill what he felt was a gap in the system.

He said: “In 2018 I finished school and went into a very busy summer of playing lots of cricket.

“During that time I started experiencing some mental health issues.

“Nothing too extreme, but it was enough for me to basically go through the support system that was on offer.

“I didn’t feel it was strong enough for young athletes.

“When I looked into it, I couldn’t see an organisation that represented the issue of mental health in young sportspeople.

“So, at the start of my gap year I sat down with my dad and we went about creating Sporting Minds and it’s evolved from there really.”

It aims to provide support to athletes across all sports who are either professional, or play at a representative level, such as for a county team.

For those in need, the charity can provide help via Bupa.

Lea’s main role is in raising awareness, both in letting those struggling how to get help, but also in promoting positive mental health after coming through his own issues.

He said: “Often the perception of athletes is they’ve got this perfect lifestyle, but actually it can be really tough.

“It’s not something I’ve looked at from the outside, it’s something I’ve been directly involved in, which I think gives it quite a bit of weight.

“I suppose it’s quite an emotional investment in the charity as well.”

The sudden shutdown of organised sport in the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic is having consequences.

Sporting Minds has seen an increase in activity through their social media channels from athletes concerned about the future.

Lea said: “Athletes firstly aren’t able to play their sport and compete with their teammates, which brings up obvious issues.

“But secondly I think there’s a lot of career uncertainty at the minute for young athletes.

“There are furlough schemes brought in, financial implications, there are worries about new contracts.

“We know those sorts of things can breed mental health issues.”

It is a lot to deal with on top of the studies at Brookes, but Lea insists there is still room for the rest of university life.

He said: “I don’t feel like I need to make time for the charity, because it’s what I do.

“It goes back to that thing where if you’re really passionate about something it doesn’t feel like work.

“I still find time to socialise at university.”

To get involved, donate or access one-to-one support, visit