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Prince William wants to ‘change the game on mental health’ with new FA campaign

Campaign launches on Sunday at Community Shield match between Liverpool and Manchester City

Katie O'Malley
Wednesday 31 July 2019 16:29 BST
Heads Together launches campaign with The FA to harness the influence and popularity of football

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s mental health charity is to launch a campaign with The Football Association (FA) to highlight the importance of viewing mental health as of equal importance to physical wellbeing.

On Wednesday, the pair’s charity Heads Together announced its new campaign – Head’s Up – in partnership with the FA, of which the duke is president.

According to the organisation’s website, the campaign “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”.

“It will strive to raise awareness, spark conversation and signpost support for those in need.”

The campaign will launch on Sunday 4 August at The Community Shield fixture between Liverpool Football Club and Manchester City and will conclude at The Emirates FA Cup Final on 23 May 2020.

In a video accompanying the announcement of the campaign, England Football manager Gareth Southgate, Prince William, and members of the public discuss how setbacks can test mental health.

“We seem far more comfortable talking about our physical health and dealing with physical injury,” one person says to camera in the clip.

“But with our mental health and mental fitness, it’s a different story. Meaning we too often bottle up our issues and avoid tackling our problems until, sometimes, our problems get serious,” add several others.

“Support makes us all stronger,” concludes Southgate, before Prince William adds: “So, together, let’s help the change the game on mental health.”

The charity explains that Head’s Up 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.

During Sunday’s pre-match ceremony, a short film by the Duke of Cambridge will introduce the campaign and encourage both sets of fans in joining in the singing of the clubs’ anthems, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “Blue Moon”.

The organisation states that the singing will be led by two community choirs – iChoir from Liverpool and Bee Vocal from Manchester – which were created to support mental wellbeing and to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health.

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The campaign comes days after figures compiled by Sporting Chance and the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) showed that the number of professional footballers accessing and utilising mental health support has increased sixfold over the past six years.

Since 2013 – when Sporting Chance first launched its nationwide network of counsellors, psychologists and psychotherapists on behalf of the PFA – a total of 1,666 current and former footballers have accessed the charity’s services.

In 2013, 60 PFA members were treated by Sporting Chance. By 2018, that figure had risen to 438. To date in 2019, the charity has provided mental health care support for 320 members.

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