Inside Matters

Mental Health Tactics: A guide to supporting your friends

9 May 2024
Spurs huddle

As part of the Premier League's Inside Matters campaign, here's some tips we can use to help each other out

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Football can be a supportive place where people find a sense of belonging, friendship and community.

Being side-by-side through the rollercoaster of a season, cheering on your team, dissecting the game afterwards, speculating about new signings… all these things can create a bond.

When you love football, and share a passion for your team, there's something special about those relationships, and they can bring an opportunity for supporting each other with our wellbeing and mental health.

So, how can we as football fans help one another out, so we can be there not just for our team in the highs and lows, but for each other too?

We've pulled together some tactics on how you can support one another, in small but important ways:

Tactic 1: Check in with your mates.

Don't be shy, don't assume they're OK, ask them how they really are. Use the Starting XI open questions which hopefully mean you won't just get an 'I'm OK' when it's not true. Just like in football, it's way better to be on the front foot!

Tactic 2: Have conversations like you normally would, there's no need to become all weird!

If you normally walk to the match, catch the bus to an away game, have a pre-match pie together or bend their ear with your own post-match analysis on the way home, just make it part of that activity and talk about how life is really going, and it'll get easier over time.

Tactic 3: Create a kind culture.

Every person is different and being kind doesn't mean being any less passionate about your loyalty to your team! But if we can all take time to be kind, like helping someone to find their seat, thanking the stewards as you leave or making sure someone gets home safely, these moments of connection and kindness not only help the other person's mental health but kindness is proven to help yours too.

Tactic 4: Be present with people, not distracted.

It's so easy to not give our full attention, to not properly listen and to be distracted by our phone or surroundings, especially if we're watching the game! Find time to be present with people, to actively listen, not to jump in and fix. We have the best chance of finding out how someone’s really doing when we give our full attention.

Tactic 5: Be a brilliant mate and signpost to professional help.

Just like in a match, if your team-mate gets injured, you'd run over to check in with them, ask them how they are and then call for the expert. You can do this with mental health support too. A player can't win on their own, it takes a team, and there's no bad thing in admitting that you might need extra support. If you do it's readily available through these organisations listed on the Mental Health Foundation website.

For further mental health support, fans can head to: Get help | Mental Health Foundation


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