On August 4th, the new football season will kick off in style as Wembley welcomes Manchester City and Liverpool for the FA Community Shield. Except, this year, it’s a little different. The game will also mark the launch of Heads Up, a campaign in which The FA will work alongside CALM, Mind, Sporting Chance and Heads Together to use football as a platform for discussion around mental health.
Spearheaded by The Duke of Cambridge, Heads Up will provide a season of activities aimed at driving the biggest ever conversation on mental health. The beautiful game can have a hugely positive impact on physical and mental health – something The FA looked into with a recent research project – and we’re thrilled to be an official partner charity.
Football can bring great happiness & be a force for good when it comes to mental health. That’s why we’re delighted to be a partner of the #HeadsUp campaign, launching as @LFC play @ManCity at the @FA Community Shield on August 4th.
— CALM (@theCALMzone) July 31, 2019
Following The FA Community Shield, the campaign will be activated across all levels of the game from elite to grassroots and at the biggest moments of The FA’s season. The campaign will conclude at The Emirates FA Cup Final on 23 May, 2020.
“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.”
Mark Bullingham, The FA’s incoming Chief Executive
CALM ambassador and recently-retired pro footballer, Marvin Sordell, believes Heads Up can help normalise discussions around mental health within football. He said: “I really think we can take a big step this season after some baby steps in the past. Being visible and consistent pushing out this message of awareness, as well as being as supportive as possible to players, staff, fans and the entire football community, will help change things for the better.”
“We firmly believe football can bring great happiness and be a force for good when it comes to mental health. We’re therefore delighted to continue our work with Heads Together and to be part of the Heads Up campaign.
At a cultural and societal level, we know the beautiful game has an important role to play in the way we deal with issues including mental health and suicide. 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.”
Simon Gunning, CEO of CALM
Need support? Worried about someone? CALM’s helpline and webchat are open daily 5pm-midnight. Get access here.
Have you been affected by suicide? The Support After Suicide Partnership is a hub for anyone bereaved or affected by suicide, where you can find emotional and practical support.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.