The Football Association of Wales (FAW) has joined with the wider UK football family to sign a joint Declaration committing to make mental health a key priority at all levels of the game, as a lasting legacy of the 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, share best practice and support the development of ‘mentally healthy clubs’ at every level of the game.
Following an unprecedented season for football, mental health issues are more relevant than ever. Through the Declaration, which was convened by The Royal Foundation, 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;
- 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.
The landmark Declaration has been signed by CEOs and Chairs from across football, including 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).
FA Wales CEO, Jonathan Ford signed the declaration on a video call with The Duke earlier this month, alongside other senior leaders of each organisation.
Jonathan Ford, Chief Executive of the Football Association of Wales, said, “At the FAW, we are committed to use the unique power of our game to unite with football organisations across the UK in supporting this important and necessary initiative, particularly during this most difficult time. We look forward to advancing on the positive changes needed to ensure that the mental health of all members of the football family is a priority.”
The Declaration will see the FAW join a UK-wide mental health implementation group next season, working towards a collective ‘game plan’ for the first time to ensure the mental health of players, staff, managers, coaches and officials is prioritised across the game. Together, the group will share best practice and drive progress towards the pledges in the declaration, which include rolling out mental health training and education to all clubs, implementing mental health strategies, and embedding mental health within policies and practices.
The Declaration will continue to build on the work the FAW and FAW Trust are doing to promote mental health through the FAW Trust ‘We Wear the Same Shirt’ programme.
The Declaration has also been welcomed by Heads Up’s charity partners Mind, CALM and Sporting Chance, who provided insight and expertise and will work with the signatories next season to take the Declaration forward.
Godric Smith, Chair of the Heads Up campaign, said: “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. 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.”
You can find out more about the Heads Up campaign by visiting – www.headstogether.org.uk/heads-up