At its summer conference, the EFL have signed up to the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation, signifying the beginning of a ground-breaking new partnership with the mental health charity Mind.
Mind are the EFL’s new Official Charity Partner from the start of the 2018/19 campaign and addressed clubs, outlining plans to help promote better mental health to players, managers, club staff and fans.
From the start of next season, Mind have committed to working collaboratively with all 72 EFL clubs, as well as each club’s respective Community Trust to offer a support package including mental health workshops, information and resources.
Over the next two years, Mind will also work with EFL Community Trusts to reach more people at risk of experiencing mental health problems through wellbeing taster days and programmes delivered in partnership with the charity’s network of local Minds. This work will aim to create a lasting legacy for the partnership locally in the heart of communities.
While there is some fantastic work to support people to get active about their mental health in some local communities, the new partnership aims to see this developed throughout the country, with EFL clubs expected to play a pivotal role.
EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “Signing the Mental Health Charter is just the first step for a partnership that offers a unique opportunity to encourage the positive health and wellbeing of millions of people, including players, managers and staff working within the EFL and our 72 clubs.
“As part of this work, the EFL are undertaking a comprehensive review of policies and procedures to ensure that Mental Health and Wellbeing are embedded throughout the organisation and at our clubs.
“This will include Mental Health Action Plans and Wellness Actions Plans, as well as appropriate training.
“Over the close season we will be working hard with Mind, the PFA and other partners working in this space, so that we can make a real positive difference to the mental health of people connected to the EFL and wider game.”
Mind were chosen to become the EFL’s Official Charity Partner from the start of the 2018/19 season on an initial two-year term following a robust tender process. Mind will now work closely with the EFL to ensure clubs have programmes in place to support the wellbeing of both staff and volunteers that can be put into practice throughout the footballing calendar.
Billy Kee, the Accrington striker, who finished the season as League Two’s top goalscorer and was instrumental in his side’s historic promotion to League One, has spoken openly about his experience of mental health problems.
The 27-year-old was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder last season and has opened up about the support he’s received from the club and his teammates.
Kee said: “Depression is a serious thing and I think people do really struggle. I’ve just found out I've got bipolar as well and it all links together.
“It's a new one for me. I’m learning about it and hopefully I’ll learn more. I’ve received some help and I’m also on tablets which have been good for me.”
"The EFL’s partnership with Mind will help everybody to understand a little bit more."
Now, within the supportive environment of his club, Kee is hoping he can help others experiencing mental health problems.
He added: “I can come in in the morning and say ‘I’m really struggling today’, they'll put an arm round you and they'll give you a cuddle. Sometimes you don't get that in football but with our team, there are no fronts. They're so honest.
“It is all about education and learning about it. The EFL’s partnership with Mind will help everybody to understand a little bit more.
“It could help someone thinking ‘I do that regularly. Oh, have I got that?’ They could just have a little look into it, they might have nothing but if it helps them in some way, brilliant.”
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “We’re delighted that, as part of its partnership with Mind, the EFL have signed the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation.
“Signing the Charter, which Mind helped to set up with the Sport and Recreation Alliance and the Professional Players Federation, signifies the EFL’s commitment to using the power of football to bring about real change around mental health, from the elite level down to grass roots.
“We hope that, together, the EFL and Mind can help reduce stigma and create better mental wellbeing within all 72 EFL Clubs, the communities they are a vital part of, and in wider society.
“We will support the EFL to do this by working closely with each club, through our network of local Minds, to provide simple, practical ways of improving the wellbeing not only of the players, managers and club staff, but also everyone their Community Trusts reach.”