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Heads Up for the FA Cup

The Coronavirus seems to always take centre stage with news items and over the last few months people have been missing so many things. For many people the things that are missing are the very things that help with people’s mental health. Sport is starting to be played again but only at elite level and behind closed doors. However, for many this is giving people a light at the end of a tunnel and something to look forward to. Premier League football is starting this week and despite there being no crowds or places where supporters can gather this will be a real boost for sports fans.

We have often featured articles promoting mental health and have covered the Heads Up charity which back in January when the world seemed normal, delayed the start of the FA Cup games by a minute to raise awareness.

This season’s FA Cup final will be renamed the Heads Up FA Cup final to raise mental health awareness, says the Football Association. Title sponsor Emirates has agreed to the name change for the final, which is scheduled for 1 August at Wembley. The Dubai-based airline has sponsored football’s oldest knockout competition since 2015. FA president Prince William says the final can be “a moment to promote good, positive mental health for everyone”. The Duke of Cambridge has been at the forefront of a season-long campaign around mental health with the FA working alongside a group of charities in the Heads Together initiative.

Hopefully with the extra coverage that this new name will bring and the fact that this high profile competition has taken this stand can only be positive.

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I captain West Ham and I have overcome mental health issues

Gilly Flaherty captains West Ham Ladies football team and has played for England. She is a happy bubbly person that absolutely loves what she does. In her words she is living the dream. This wasn’t always the case and she revealed in an interview a few days ago that she had suffered from mental health issues and when she was 17 she had actually tried to take her own life. Gilly told the interviewer that she struggled being away from home, with a weight issue and also the fact she was struggling coming to terms with her sexuality.

Gilly has told people about the importance of being able to talk and to open up and stresses that weakness isn’t a failing but can sometimes be a strength, especially the strength to be open.

In the 11 years since Flaherty tried to take her own life mental health and its image has come a long way. People are prepared to talk about issues and bring them into the open. Football, with its Heads Up Campaign have brought the subject to the forefront in an area where in the past the subject would have been taboo.

The more people that tell their stories can only help those going through similar experiences now and show them that there truly is a light at the end of the tunnel and with the correct help that great things can be overcome.

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It only takes a minute…

All of the 32 teams competing in the FA Cup third round ties will have their start delayed by one minute  as part of a campaign to promote mental health. These matches will take place between 3rd and 6th January 2020.

The campaign has been called the “Take a Minute” initiative and is being run in partnership with the FA’s Heads Up campaign and also Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters Programme. The idea of delaying a match by 60 seconds is such a simple idea but it is one that will reach a massive audience. The idea is for people to take some time to discuss their mental health. People can be reluctant to talk about their mental wellbeing and for footballers to be able to endorse this programme is a great way of reaching so many people. The idea is to say to people that it only takes a minute to start thinking about your mental health. During the minute delay fans will be encouraged to consider the positive impact 60 seconds can have on their own wellbeing or in supporting a friend or family.

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