Prince William is harnessing his love of football to tackle mental health issues – by delaying kick-offs in the FA Cup so fans can talk to each other.
The Duke of Cambridge, who is an Aston Villa fan, wants to start all 32 third-round cup matches a minute later than their scheduled timeslot.
In addition, England’s first Uefa Euro 2020 warm-up against Italy in March will be dedicated to mental health – a first for an England international – as well as the FA Cup Final in May.
The duke has narrated a 60-second film featuring stars of the game such as Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, England players Harry Maguire, Dele Alli, Jordan Pickford and Callum Hudson-Odoi and former England women’s international player Alex Scott which will be broadcast before the ties.
Prince William has narrated a 60-second film featuring football stars which he hopes will encourage fans to ‘Take A Minute’ to start looking after their mental health (Pictured: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Carrow Road with Prince George and Princess Charlotte)
The clip begins in black and white as the solemn faces of those featured flash across the screen.
‘In life, as in football, we all go through highs and lows’, Prince William says in the background. ‘We can all sometimes feel anxious and stressed. At moments, even the little things can seem a struggle. But we can all start to change things’.
As the duke speaks, the images of the sporting stars turn to colour – and those involved in the project are seen smiling and supporting each other.
‘Every Mind Matters and Heads Up will show you the simple steps you can take to look after your mental health,’ Prince William continues. ‘Helping to boost your mood, improve your sleep, and feel ready for life’s ups and downs’.
The initiative comes under the Heads Up campaign to boost mental health.
The film, which will be played before all 32 third-round FA Cup matches this weekend, features footballers Jesse Lingard, Harry Maguire and Jordan Pickford
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard (right) and former England women’s international player Alex Scott (left) also appear in the short clip
Prince William, President of The FA, said: ‘Over the course of the next five months, Heads Up will use one of the most powerful, unifying forces in our society – football – to spread the message that we all have mental health, just as we all have physical health.
‘Our ambition is to start the largest ever conversation on mental health and to ensure there is a lasting mental health legacy for the game in this country.
‘I hope Heads Up can help us all take another big step forward in shattering the stigma that surrounds mental health.’
England manager Gareth Southgate added: ‘I know what an important role football can play in driving positive change in society so we’re proud that our fixture against Italy at Wembley Stadium will be dedicated to the Heads Up campaign. Hopefully this will provide another platform to generate open and honest conversation about mental health and well-being.’
The powerful clip begins in black and white as the solemn faces of those featured flash across the screen (Pictured: Chris Kamara in the film)
Heads Up, which is a partnership between the Public Health England campaign Every Mind Matters and the FA, will also receive a boost over two February weekends – the 8th and 9th and the 15th and 16th – when all major league and championship matches in the UK will be dedicated to the cause.
Fans will be encouraged to download their own ‘mind plan’ from the Every Mind Matters website.
Users answer questions about how they feel and then receive a personalised action plan to help them deal with stress, boost their mood, improve sleep and take control. The mind plan, which has been completed nearly one million times since it went online in October, is designed to stop common mental health concerns becoming more serious, clinical conditions.
Prince William (pictured) launched Heads Up at Wembley Stadium in May
Research shows 45 per cent of men who had concerns about their mental health in the past year took no action, compared with 31 per cent of women.
Of those who did take steps to manage or improve their mental health, 73 per cent said they wished they had taken action sooner.
The YouGov survey, commissioned by PHE, also found men were less likely to take self-care actions every day, with 18 per cent of men doing so compared to 24 per cent of women.
While Kensington Palace stresses the collaboration is aimed at everyone including players, supporters friends and families, of all sexes, it is also widely recognised that football can be a ‘powerful’ way to reach men in particular.
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, said: ‘As every fan knows, football has its highs and lows – and so does life. This is a fantastic opportunity to bring the football community together in an important conversation about how we can all take care of our mental health, starting with a few simple actions.’
Frank Lampard added: ‘It’s hugely important for men to think about their mental health and take action where they can.
‘I came from a family where we bottled up a lot of emotions, feelings and sometimes anxieties. I think a huge thing now is the great campaigns that are going on encouraging people to speak openly about looking after your mental health and not feel bad about how you feel inside. I think as men, sometimes we can think that it’s a weakness but it certainly isn’t. It’s a huge strength.’
As the duke speaks in the clip, images of the sporting stars turn to colour – and those involved in the project are seen smiling and supporting each other (Pictured: Dele Alli and Son Heung-min)
‘Every Mind Matters and Heads Up will show you the simple steps you can take to look after your mental health,’ Prince William says
Heads Up is a partnership between the Public Health England campaign Every Mind Matters and the FA
In a behind-the-scenes clip, those involved in the powerful film discussed their own experiences with mental health.
‘We are encouraging people to speak openly and to not feel bad about saying how you feel inside’, added Lampard. ‘I think sometimes we can think that that’s a weakness. It certainly isn’t, it’s a huge strength and I think it’s something that we have to do more’.
Chris Kamara, who features in the clip, said that in the past ‘if you told your teammates that you were struggling… it would be all around the dressing room and they would laugh at you’.
‘But times have really changed for the good recently which is fantastic to see and so beneficial for people’, he said. ‘Now you can speak to your manager, coach and teammates and they understand. They know that we don’t live in a perfect world as footballers, we’re just human beings like everybody else.’
Prince William, President of the FA, attends the launch of a new mental health campaign at Wembley Stadium in May
The duke later visited Hendon FC in Kingsbury, London (pictured) to learn about the club’s mental health outreach initiatives as part of the campaign
The Duke of Cambridge launched Heads Up – a season-long partnership between Heads Together and The FA – at Wembley Stadium in May.
He later visited Hendon FC in Kingsbury, London to learn about the club’s mental health outreach initiatives as part of the campaign.
During a conversation with coaches, he also highlighted how abuse might be a difficult issue for players to discuss and that racism needed to be tackled.
He said: ‘People are now talking a little bit about mental health issues but I imagine talking about racism is still quite a difficult subject, especially when it’s happening in such a public fashion with Premier League matches or Champions League.
‘We’ve got to do something about it. I’m fed up with it. I’m so bored of it.’
The royal is a longtime advocate of mental health awareness and in May, he and wife Kate Middleton also supported the launch of Shout – the UK’s first 24/7 crisis text service.
The royal is a longtime advocate of mental health awareness and in May, he and wife Kate Middleton also supported the launch of Shout – the UK’s first 24/7 crisis text service
The hotline – launched alongside the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – is tied to Heads Together and was founded thanks to a £3 million investment from the Royal Foundation.
Godric Smith, chair of the Heads Up campaign, said: ‘Football is already doing some great work on mental health but it is really encouraging to see the whole game uniting around the Heads Up campaign in 2020 starting with the Emirates FA Cup Third Round. Support your team.
‘Support your mates. And support yourself. The Every Mind Matters website is a great place to start. We all have mental health and we can all take a minute to think more about it and take simple, positive steps.’
The FA Cup third round kicks-off on Saturday 4 January at 12.31pm with games taking place across the weekend.
Fans can search Every Mind Matters to create their own personal mental health action plan or visit www.everymindmatters.co.uk.