The English Football League (EFL) and its 72 member club have launched 'Team Talk', in an effort to encourage supporters to talk and stay connected throughout the Christmas and January period.
Research from the 'Get It Off Your Chest: Men's mental health 10 years on' report, commissioned by mental health charity and the EFL's charity partner, Mind, revealed how men feel more low regularly than ten years ago, which has inspired the latest campaign from the governing body of the Championship, League One and League Two.
Results have shown that alternatives to medication for mental health issues is social activity, something that has been impossible for many during the coronavirus pandemic, especially for football supporters whose teams' matches have been played behind closed doors for much of the year.
To support fans in keeping connected to their clubs, Team Talk sessions will informally bring fans together (virtually or in-person where safe to do so) to talk about football - helping them stay connected during what can be a difficult time of year for many.
The sessions will build on the community work of clubs throughout the pandemic, which has included befriending phone calls, online social groups, a pen-pal scheme, social action from young people taking part in NCS and socially distanced ‘garden gate’ conversations across EFL communities to reach the people who require this vital support right when they need it the most.
Rick Parry, EFL Chair, said: “This year has been incredibly challenging for so many people, and we know football supporters have missed the camaraderie and sense of community that attending a live football match brings. Although we have welcomed supporters back to matches in limited numbers, we know many people are still unable to attend and are missing watching their football team in-person with family and friends.
“EFL Clubs are the cornerstone of their communities and through the network of 72 Clubs, the EFL is in a unique position to reach millions of football fans who may be suffering in silence with their mental health. The Team Talk campaign builds on the excellent work of Clubs during the pandemic in helping some of the most vulnerable in society at such a critical time.”
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, added: “It’s really positive that men are more likely to seek help from the NHS and talk to friends and family about their mental health than they were 10 years ago. As a society, we have become more open about mental health in the last decade as campaigns such as Mind’s partnership with the English Football League (EFL) have helped to shift stigmatising attitudes and behaviours, and this may be beginning to filter through.
“Men still tell us that they are not always getting the help they need for their mental health. Sometimes they don’t know where to go for help or what’s on offer might not be suitable for them. Our survey suggests that a wider range of options might be needed, such as physical activity and social activities, alongside access to talking therapies and medication. Ultimately, men are still three times as likely to take their own life their own life as women, so there is much more to do to ensure men can ask for help and can get the right support when they need it.”
Author: Jake Wilkin