The Premier League has united with the United Kingdom's football family in signing a joint declaration, committing to make mental health a key priority at all levels of the game.
The "Mentally Healthy Football" declaration is a legacy of the Heads Up campaign in February this year, which used the power of football to raise the awareness of, and encourage a conversation around, the subject of mental health.
The declaration gets governing bodies, leagues and organisations from across British football to recognise that mental health is as important as physical health, and to pioneer a "team approach" on this important issue.
It will build on the important work the League and its clubs are already doing in this area, getting all levels to work together to scale up these efforts across the football system and support the development of "mentally healthy clubs" at every level of the game.
"Not only will [the declaration] benefit future generations who work and play within the game, but it will also send a clear message to football’s millions of fans about the importance of mental health," says The Duke of Cambridge, who led the Heads Up campaign, in a video marking the signing of the declaration.
"That is a legacy we can all be proud of – following a season we will never forget."
In the declaration, CEOs and Chairs from across football say: "Now, more than ever, is the time for us to support each other and for all parts of society to prioritise mental health. We will do everything we can to play our part in this and help make football a 'mentally healthy' environment, now and in the future."
The Mentally Healthy Football Declaration = signed 🤝— Heads Together (@heads_together) July 27, 2020
We are delighted that as a legacy of our #HeadsUp campaign, in a landmark moment, the entire UK football family has united to commit to prioritising mental health at every level of the game.
For more: https://t.co/C9ThEAbOTW pic.twitter.com/Mb2giWcxhL
Commitment to help
In an unprecedented season for football, mental health issues are more relevant than ever. Through the declaration, which was convened by The Royal Foundation, football has committed to embed an environment in the sport across the UK:
- Where players, staff, managers and officials are encouraged to look after their mental health just as they look after their physical health;
- where they feel able to spot the signs that they, a team-mate or colleague might be struggling and know where to access support;
- and where speaking out about mental health is seen as a sign of strength rather than weakness.
The declaration comes in the week of the Heads Up FA Cup Final on 1 August, which marks the end of the season-long campaign dedicated to the issue of mental health.
“The Premier League is proud to have supported the Heads Up campaign this season to help encourage conversation on mental health," said Premier League Chair Gary Hoffman, who signed the declaration for the League.
Prince William, David Beckham, Steph Houghton, Tyrone Mings, Andros Townsend, and Carlo Ancelotti all on one call?— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) July 27, 2020
Hear what they had to say about the importance of prioritising mental health in football. #HeadsUp pic.twitter.com/6sfW1uuLqg
"Our clubs undertake vital work supporting the mental health of players and staff, as well as fans and those in their local communities.
"By building on the work already being done, and working collaboratively with our colleagues across football, we hope we can make a real difference and help remove the stigma associated with mental health."
Clubs' work in mental health
Premier League clubs give all their players, from Academy level up to senior, a mental health-related education session each season. Their mental health support also extends into their local communities and schools with tailored programmes.
We recognise that football is a powerful platform to encourage people to talk and to help lift the stigma associated with mental health.
This is why for the Heads Up campaign in February, players from all 20 clubs were happy to talk about the challenges they have faced and how speaking up about mental health helps them to look after their mental wellbeing.
During the COVID-19 pandemic the clubs' work in their community has addressed the additional challenges the lockdown has brought, with clubs reaching out to those at risk of isolation.
Clubs are also working with local National Health Service staff to help remove some of the additional stresses caused by the pandemic, either by providing facilities or through personnel.
During the pandemic, the Premier League launched its #StayWell hub with an initial focus on mental health.
The hub shares tips and guidance from experts, clubs and players, such as Troy Deeney and Andros Townsend, as well as from the NHS and national organisations working in these areas, to help supporters maintain their health during the pandemic.