The English Football League has teamed up with its new official charity Mind, in a bid to 'improve the game and society's approach to mental health.'
From the start of the 2018-2019 season, the EFL will call on support from 72 professional clubs beneath the Premier League to promote Mind on an initial two-year deal.
Both parties believe the power of football can raise awarenss of mental health, in what has been described as 'a ground breaking new partnership.'
It is understood the arrangement will see support provided to players, managers and staff in addition to fundraising initiatives.
An announcement of the deal took place today at Villa Park, home to Aston Villa, supported among others by Mind ambassador Alastair Campbell, Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, Villa ambassador Brian Little and Peterborough Football Club's director of football Barry Fry.
Credit: EFL Ian Lenagan - EFL Chairman, Paul Farmer CBE - Mind Chief Executive, Alastair Campbell - Mind Ambassador, Shaun Harvey - EFL Chief Executive
It comes after Happiful's football survey in September revealed just five of the 20 English Premier League clubs were willing to talk mental health with us.
EFL Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey, praised the EFL and Mind partnership, believing it could herald a 'unique opportunity' to support the mental health of the football community.
He said: “The partnership between the EFL and Mind offers us a unique opportunity to foster positive health and wellbeing of millions of individuals who have a connection with football, whether they are players, supporters or work within the game.
“We know that improving mental health is a huge challenge in society, especially for men, but through this partnership we will be proud to help raise awareness about mental health, reduce stigma and hopefully have a positive impact on the lives of millions of individuals who currently suffer in silence.
“I would like to thank Mind for their approach to the tender process and look forward to working closely with the charity to create a lasting legacy for the game, its clubs and communities.”
Mind’s Chief Executive Paul Farmer said: “We are delighted to be working with the EFL on this exciting new partnership which we hope will be a game changer in increasing awareness and understanding of mental health and raising vital funds to support Mind’s work.
"Football brings millions of people together and is a great platform to start positive conversations. One in four of us is affected by a mental health problem which means that at every club, on every terrace and in every community we need to be prioritising mental health.
Mind’s President Stephen Fry said: “As a lifelong Norwich City fan and President of Mind, I am delighted that the EFL have decided to put a focus on mental health.
"So many men in particular struggle in silence with their mental health and feel terribly alone.
"But football is a uniting force and this partnership has the potential to tackle the shame and stigma around mental health and raise awareness amongst millions of fans in an unprecedented way.
Mr Fry continued: "I hope that all 72 EFL clubs, their players and fans get firmly behind this work.”