Manchester United shows support for ‘Mentally Healthy Football’

Manchester United has welcomed a joint declaration from the UK football community in support of building a mentally healthy environment at every level of the game, as a lasting legacy of the ‘Heads Up’ campaign.

The club’s backing for the declaration follows the launch earlier this season of our own IGNORED initiative to highlight the importance of talking about mental health, as part of our wider #allredallequal campaign.

The Mentally Healthy Football Declaration will see all of UK football recognising that mental health is as important as physical health, and pioneering a ‘team approach’ on this important issue. It commits everyone in football to work together to promote mental health across all levels of the game and share best practice.

Manchester United has joined with clubs and organisations across the UK game to support the declaration, including the FA, the Premier League, the English Football League and equivalent bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Through the Declaration, football has committed to:

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

Manchester United’s backing for the declaration adds to our own IGNORED campaign, which recognises how people with mental health issues can often feel ignored and left to suffer in silence. The campaign was launched in February with a film featuring members of the men’s and women’s teams encouraging fans to consider how the use of words such as ‘psycho’ and ‘mad’ can alienate those experiencing mental health problems.

United launch IGNORED campaignVideo

Mental health has also been a recurring theme of our weekly UTD Podcast, with Jesse Lingard, Andrew Cole and Lee Sharpe among current and former players who have discussed the mental stresses involved in football – sending a message to fans that mental health is an issue that can be talked about openly. 
 
Former United winger Keith Gillespie told the UTD Podcast this month that mental health was a taboo issue when he broke through as a player in the 1990s and struggled with gambling addiction.
“Mental health was not a topic back then,”
he recalled.
“It was a few years after that it became a topic that people were becoming more aware of and talking about…It is very important that the message is out there, that it’s good to talk.”
Manchester United has its own mental health awareness training programme and mental health and wellbeing network for club employees.

The club’s support for mental health awareness is part of our wider #allredallequal campaign for equality, diversity and inclusion. Fans can engage with the IGNORED initiative on social media, using #allredallequal or by visiting www.manutd.co.uk/allredallequal.

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