The FA have issued new guidance to coaches and managers working across the adult football pyramid, advising them on how to support the mental wellbeing of their players.
The new guide has been produced in partnership with Mind and a mental health advisory group put together by The FA. The 36-page publication forms an important part of The FA and Heads Together’s ‘Heads Up’ campaign, which seeks to harness the influence and popularity of football to drive the biggest ever conversation on mental health.
In addition to information and advice on mental health and wellbeing, the guidance notes have been created to help coaches and managers spot the signs of mental health problems, predominantly amongst male players. It gives them the confidence to support, as well as signposts to specialist help where necessary, including Heads Up’s charity partners and a 24/7 text support service.
The notes will be distributed across grassroots adult football and will be made available to every coach and manager across the football pyramid. Quotes and personal testimonies are included in the guide from across the football spectrum. It includes a section for coaches and managers on looking after themselves, as well as tips on actions to take in an emergency.
Further tips cover how to have a conversation with someone about their mental health, which language is and isn’t acceptable and the answers to frequently-asked questions on the overall topic. Heads Up is a season-long campaign spearheaded by the Duke of Cambridge which will show the nation that everyone has mental health, and that it is just as important as physical health.
Greg Clarke, The FA’s Chairman said: “Understandably football, like society, tends to focus on physical fitness, but mental fitness is just as important. We want to use football’s popularity and reach to highlight this and stimulate conversation in order to save lives.”
“Coaches and managers have a unique and treasured relationship with their players, and it is hoped these guidance notes will provide a valuable tool for them to spot the signs, support and signpost where necessary. These notes are primarily aimed at coaches and managers within men’s football, but we’ll be producing further guidance notes for the women’s and youth games.”
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “We’re delighted to have worked closely with The FA on creating this landmark guide. We hope that, by adding this vital resource to the kit bag of football coaches and managers across the country, we can ensure more footballers receive the mental health support they need, when they need it most.”
For more details on Heads Up, and to download the new guide, visit www.thefa.com/HeadsUp and www.headstogether.org.uk. Those in need of immediate support can text ‘HeadsUp’ to 85258 to be connected to a trained crisis counsellor. This service is available 24/7, and is free to text from most mobile networks.