Yesterday, the Duke of Cambridge virtually spoke to famed British athletes including David Beckham to discuss the importance of mental health in sports and sign the new "Mentally Healthy Football" Declaration as part of the Heads Up Campaign.
"Heads Up – launched by The Football Association and Heads Together and spearheaded by The Duke of Cambridge – will harness the influence and popularity of football to help show the nation that we all have mental health and it is just as important as physical health.The campaign will strive to raise awareness, spark conversation and signpost support for those in need, with a crisis text support service established."
As a part of this enduring initiative, the Duke of Cambridge joined athletes David Beckham, Steph Houghton, Tyrone Mings, Andros Townsend, and Carlo Ancelotti in a video call to discuss their personal struggles with mental health and its intersection with professional sports.
In the video call, Beckham spoke about his own mental health journey following the 1998 World Cup where Beckham received a red card during the game, which many believed cost England the game, saying:
""I made a mistake in '98 and the reaction at the time was pretty brutal. If social media was around when I was going through that time, it would have been a whole different story. But I was lucky. I had a support system within Manchester United, the manager, and obviously family. But did I feel it was ok at the time to go to someone and say I need help? No, because it was a different era, and I just felt that I had to keep it all in and deal with it myself. Whereas now I'm the one preaching to my kids and to other kids that I talk to out there that it's really important to talk."
This important conversation follows the announcement on Sunday of the "Mentally Healthy Football" Declaration, which Prince William explains in this video. The soccer system across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Island have banded together to support this declaration that promises:
"we will see football recognising that mental health is just as important as physical health. Football is a team game, and for the first time there is a collective 'game plan' to ensure the mental health of players, staff, managers, coaches, and officials is prioritised across the sport."
The Duke of Cambridge also took to Instagram to promote the initiative, acknowledging the strangeness surrounding sports amid the pandemic.
To learn more about Heads Up and the declaration, visit their website. Prince William's candid conversations about mental health in the sports world just may encourage other countries and other sports systems to do the same and prioritize their player's mental states above all else.
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