Harrow Borough welcome Mentally Healthy Football Declaration

Harrow Borough manager Steve Baker (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Harrow Borough manager Steve Baker (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo) - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Harrow Borough has welcomed a joint declaration from the UK football family to build a mentally healthy environment at all levels as a lasting legacy of the Heads Up campaign.

The FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday will have mental health as a background theme and the Mentally Healthy Football Declaration will see all of UK football recognising the importance.

Mental health is seen as just as important as physial health and the campaign pioneers a team approach on the issue.

The UK football family will build on the important work clubs and football organisations are already doing, working together to roll out these efforts across the football system, share best practice, and support the development of ‘mentally healthy clubs’ at every level of the game.

The landmark Declaration has been signed by senior figures from across the football system, including the FA, Premier League, English Football League (EFL), Scottish FA, Wales FA, Irish FA, League Managers Association (LMA), Professional Footballers Association (PFA), Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) and League Football Education (LFE).

Following an unprecedented season for football, amid a global pandemic, mental health issues are more relevant than ever.

Through the Declaration, football has committed to working together to embed an environment across all of UK football:

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*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.

The Declaration will see a UK-wide mental health implementation group formed 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.

Harrow Borough manager Steve Baker said: “This Declaration is very well timed. I’ve been all-too-aware these last five months that I’m in charge of a squad of players who love being part of a team and who would normally be bouncing banter off each other two or three times a week when they come together for training or matches.

“For some, the lockdown has meant physical loneliness which they may not have experienced before, which can of course quickly have mental side effects.

“It’s been important to keep in touch with every one of our group, not just to check that they are keeping in shape physically, but to ask about their mental health and offer support and friendship if there are any issues.”

The Declaration has also been welcomed by Heads Up’s charity partners Mind, CALM and Sporting Chance, who will work with the football family next season to take the Declaration forward.

You can find out more about the Heads Up campaign by visiting www.headstogether.org.uk/heads-up.