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FA joins football family in signing mentally healthy football declaration

Category: Mental Health, sport, Sports, The FA, The Football Association, mental health awareness training, Grassroots Football, football, mental health awareness

Mental Health

The FA on Monday 27th July joined the rest of football in coming together to sign a joint declaration that commits to making mental health a key priority at all levels of the game, as a lasting legacy of our Heads Up campaign. 

The Mentally Healthy Football Declaration will see governing bodies, leagues and organisations from across UK football recognising that mental health is as important as physical health, and pioneering a ‘team approach’ on this important issue. 

Together, the UK football family will build on the important work that clubs and football organisations are already doing, working together to scale up these efforts across the football system and support the development of ‘mentally-healthy' clubs at every level of the game.

In a video marking the signing of the Mentally Healthy Football Declaration, the The Duke of Cambridge – who is also The FA's president – said: "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.

"That is a legacy we can all be proud of, following a season we will never forget."

The Duke was speaking in a film showing senior leaders from the breadth of the UK's football community signing the declaration on a video call this month, and also features players and managers – including England's Harry Kane, Steph Houghton and Gareth Southgate – reaffirming their support for mental health.

Following an unprecedented season for football, mental health issues are more relevant than ever. Through the declaration, football has committed to working together to continue raising awareness of mental health, and to embed an environment across UK football where:

  • Players, staff, managers and officials are encouraged to look after their mental health just as they look after their physical health
  • Players, staff, managers and officials feel able to spot the signs that they, a team-mate or colleague might be struggling and know where to access support
  • Speaking out about mental health is seen as a sign of strength rather than weakness

The landmark declaration has been signed by CEOs and chairs from across football, including – as well as The FA – the Premier League, the English Football League (EFL), the Scottish FA, FA Wales, the Irish FA, League Managers Association (LMA), Professional Footballers Association (PFA), Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), League Football Education (LFE), The Barclays FA Women’s Super League, The FA Women’s Championship, The FA Women’s National League, The National League, The Northern Premier League, The Southern League and The Isthmian League.

Mark Bullingham, our chief executive, joined director of the women's professional game Kelly Simmons and vice chair Jack Pearce in signing the declaration on a video call with The Duke earlier this month.

“The Heads Up campaign was a step in the collective journey to end the silence and change the attitudes and behaviours towards mental health," said Bullingham.

"The declaration will see football unite to deliver a long-lasting legacy for the campaign. Working together we will continue the progress made to build a culture in the men’s and women’s game that truly supports, listens and signposts."

The declaration has been welcomed by Heads Up’s charity partners Mind, CALM and Sporting Chance, who provided insight and expertise and will continue to work with the signatories next season as they take the commitments forward.

“There has been fantastic leadership from every part of football on mental health this season and today’s declaration cements the huge culture change underway in the game," said Godric Smith, chair of the Heads Up campaign.

"It is a first of its kind and an important moment for sport and society more widely. It comes at a time when prioritising our mental health and supporting each other has never mattered more."

Spearheaded by The Duke of Cambridge, Heads Up is a season-long campaign between Heads Together and The FA to change the conversation around mental health through football. This Saturday will see the culmination of The Emirates FA Cup officially designated as The Heads Up FA Cup Final in dedication to the issue of mental health, which is expected to be one of the ongoing issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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