Football is coming together this weekend with the ambition to kick off the biggest ever conversation around mental health, as new research shows just 1 in 3 football fans regularly talk about mental health with their friends.
Over the past two seasons, the EFL has joined forces with Mind, the mental health charity, to help improve football’s approach to mental health and raise awareness around the country.
Now, for two weekends in February, every football team from across the English Football League, Premier League, The National League, The Barclays FA Women’s Super League, The FA Women’s Championship and The FA Women’s National League will dedicate their matches to Heads Up, a partnership between The FA and Heads Together.
Spearheaded by HRH The Duke of Cambridge, the season-long Heads Up campaign aims to harness the influence and popularity of football to normalise the conversation around mental health, working closely with charity partners Mind, CALM and Sporting Chance.
The ‘Heads Up Weekends’ will highlight the power of talking as a way to support one another and dispel stigma, with activity planned at fixtures across the men’s and women’s football calendar.
EFL Clubs will feature Heads Up branding across stadiums, programmes and player kit over the weekend of February 7-9, in a major unifying moment that aims to get the nation talking about mental health. Over the weekends, clubs will also be showcasing the work they do to improve mental health in their communities.
The weekends will further highlight the important work taking place across football to improve the approach to mental health in football. This includes the EFL and Mind’s ground-breaking charity partnership, which began in 2018 and has provided increased visibility, important training and support for Clubs, staff and fans, and raised vital funds for the mental health charity.
To officially kick off the Heads Up Weekends, and marking Time To Talk Day on Thursday 6th February, The Duke of Cambridge today joined players, managers, representatives and fans from the men’s and women’s game to take part in a table football tournament and a mental health conversation at Heist Bank in London.
In a message included in every matchday programme over the Heads Up Weekends, HRH The Duke of Cambridge wrote:
“Imagine if we talked about mental health as much as we talk about football…. Many of us won’t go a day without talking about it. And whatever team we support, every single fan, player and manager has one thing in common – we all have mental health, in the same way that we all have physical health. And we will all face ups and downs in life which will affect it. It’s time we start taking our mental fitness as seriously as we do our physical fitness, and that starts with talking.”
Chairman of the EFL, Rick Parry, said:
“Through our ground-breaking partnership with Mind, the EFL and its Clubs have worked hard to improve the approach to mental health in football and wider society, over the past two seasons. Football provides a platform like no other to raise awareness and tackle society’s biggest issues and we’re proud to offer our support to the Heads Up campaign, as football comes together to further encourage the conversation around mental health. I look forward to seeing the impact over the two weekends.”
The Heads Up Weekends take place over February 7-9 and 14-17. Fans are encouraged to join the conversation using #KickOffAConversation and #HeadsUp.
Find out more and get tips from Heads Up’s charity partners (Mind, CALM, Sporting Chance and Heads Together) – visit www.headstogether.org.uk/Heads-Up.
Those wanting immediate support can also text ‘HeadsUp’ to 85258 to connect with a trained crisis volunteer – a service run by ‘Shout’ and powered by Crisis Text Line, which is available 24/7 and free to text from most mobile networks.
For further advice and support please visit www.mind.org.uk. To learn more about the EFL’s partnership with Mind, please visit: mind.org.uk/onyourside