Chelsea FC Women forward Fran Kirby joined HRH Prince William and other players, managers, representatives and fans from the men’s and women’s game to take part in a table football tournament and a mental health conversation to officially kick off the Heads Up Weekends on Wednesday.
Football is coming together with the ambition to kick off the biggest-ever conversation around mental health, as new research shows just one in three football fans regularly talk about mental health with their friends.For two weekends in February, every football team from across the Premier League, English Football League, the National League, the Barclays FA Women’s Super League, the FA Women’s Championship, the FA Women’s National League will dedicate their matches to Heads Up, a partnership between The FA and Heads Together.Spearheaded by HRH The Duke of Cambridge, the season-long Heads Up campaign aims to harness the influence and popularity of football to normalise the conversation around mental health, working closely with charity partners Mind, CALM and Sporting Chance.To officially kick off the Heads Up Weekends, and marking Time To Talk Day on Thursday 6 February, Kirby joined the Duke of Cambridge for the event at Heist Bank in London.In a message included in every matchday programme over the Heads Up Weekends, HRH The Duke of Cambridge wrote: ‘Imagine if we talked about mental health as much as we talk about football…. Many of us won’t go a day without talking about it. And whatever team we support, every single fan, player and manager has one thing in common – we all have mental health, in the same way that we all have physical health.
In January, Heads Up teamed up with PHE’s Every Mind Matters in a historic first to delay all matches in the FA Cup third rround by 60 seconds, to encourage fans to ‘take a minute’ to start looking after their mental health.
A powerful one-minute film narrated by the Duke of Cambridge and featuring Frank Lampard, Callum Hudson-Odoi and others from the game was played out in stadiums across the country. The film urged football fans to complete the ‘Every Mind Matters’ quiz and get their own ‘Mind Plan’.In October HRH Prince William and Frank Lampard surprised England football fans at a pub in London to help promote Heads Up.The Heads Up Weekends take place over February 8-9 and February 14-17. Fans are encouraged to join the conversation using #KickOffAConversation and #HeadsUp.Find out more and get tips from Heads Up’s charity partners (Mind, CALM, Sporting Chance and Heads Together). Those wanting immediate support can also text ‘HeadsUp’ to 85258 to connect with a trained crisis volunteer – a service run by ‘Shout’ and powered by Crisis Text Line, which is available 24/7 and free to text from most mobile networks.