The FA and Heads Together are working in partnership to spark the biggest conversation ever around mental health
Sunday’s FA Community Shield kicked off the Heads Up campaign and a season of activities aimed at driving the biggest ever conversation on mental health
Heads Up – launched by The FA and Heads Together and spearheaded by The Duke of Cambridge - will harness the influence and popularity of football to help show the nation that we all have mental health and it is just as important as physical health.
Visible across The FA’s biggest assets and moments of the season, the campaign will strive to raise awareness, spark conversation and signpost support for those in need, with a 24/7 text support service established.
The launch moment for the 2019/20 season was officially marked during Sunday’s FA Community Shield’s pre-match ceremony, when a short film by The Duke of Cambridge introduced the Heads Up campaign and encouraged both sets of fans to join in the singing of the clubs’ anthems, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘Blue Moon’.
The singing was led by two community choirs – iChoir from Liverpool and Bee Vocal from Manchester – both created to support mental wellbeing and to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health. The choirs took to the pitch ahead of the teams to lead the iconic anthems, which both refer to themes of isolation and the importance of togetherness, pertinent to the core message behind the campaign.
Raising Awareness and offering support
Following The FA Community Shield, the campaign will be activated across all levels of the game from the elite to grassroots and at the biggest moments of The FA’s season including men’s and women’s England internationals and FA competitions. The campaign will conclude at the Emirates FA Cup Final on 23 May, 2020.
At a grassroots level, a new comprehensive guidance for coaches and managers will be distributed to FA affiliated adult clubs, to support them in identifying the signs of mental health and offer support and signposting where needed to help improve the mental wellbeing of players.
Heads Up will also become The FA’s nominated charity and will see The FA work alongside designated charity partners Mind, CALM, Sporting Chance and Heads Together to raise vital funds for mental health initiatives and support.
Those in need of support will be guided to a number of support services available through our charity partners and other mental health organisations. If a fan wants immediate support they can also text ‘HeadsUp’ to 85258 to connect with a trained crisis volunteer, who will chat to them by text message, sharing only what feels comfortable, and help them through the moment, working together on a plan for longer-term support.
This service is available 24/7 and free to text from most mobile networks. It is run by ‘Shout’ and powered by Crisis Text Line.
Using the power of football to drive change
Mark Bullingham, The FA’s Chief Executive said: “Suicide is the most likely cause of death for men under the age of 45. Despite this shocking statistic many are suffering in silence with a reluctance to talk about their issues. We will work with Heads Up to use the power of football to tackle the stigma around mental health and raise awareness of the importance of mental fitness.”
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind said: “We all know about the power of football, not just as the national sport with an ability to unite people, but also as a force to influence and change society for the better. That’s why we’re delighted to be a part of the Heads Up campaign. This is a fantastic chance for the football family to come together and tackle mental health for good.”
Simon Gunning, CEO of the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) said: “We firmly believe football can bring great happiness and be a force for good when it comes to mental health. Being there for your mates when things get tough, whether you're playing or supporting, winning or losing, creates strong bonds that can genuinely save lives. Heads Up, and football generally, can connect people and be a vehicle for conversations and support across all levels of the game.”