The Hatters are uniting with football clubs across the country to kick off the biggest ever conversation on mental health.
Over the past two seasons, the EFL has joined forces with Mind, the mental health charity, to help improve football’s approach to mental health and raise awareness around the country
Now, for two weekends in February, every football team from across the Premier League, English Football League, The National League, The Barclays FA Women’s Super League, The FA Women’s Championship and The FA Women’s National League will dedicate their matches to Heads Up, a partnership between The FA and Heads Together.
Spearheaded by HRH The Duke of Cambridge, 'Heads Up' aims to harness the influence and popularity of football to normalise the conversation around mental health.
The Heads Up Weekends will highlight the power of talking as a way to support one another and dispel the stigma, with activity planned at fixtures across the men’s and women’s football calendar.
On Saturday 8th February, Luton Town will join clubs across the nation to display the 'Heads Up' emblem across stadiums, programmes and player kit, in a major unifying moment that aims to get the nation talking about mental health.
With over 15 million football fans in England, 'Heads Up' aims to use the power of football as a way to show the nation that we all have mental health and it is just as important as physical health. Over the 'Heads Up' weekends, the aim is to reach every single football fan to raise awareness that we will all face ups and downs in life which will affect our mental health, but we can all do more to support each other - and that starts with talking.
The weekend will further highlight the important work taking place across football to improve the approach to mental health in football. This includes the EFL and Mind’s ground-breaking charity partnership, which began in 2018 and has provided increased visibility, important training and support for clubs, staff and fans, and raised vital funds for the mental health charity.
The simple power of conversation - talking and listening – can be the first step to better mental health, and to making it OK to say we’re not OK.
Hatters CEO Gary Sweet said: "At Luton Town we are proud of how we not only support our players, staff and supporters who may be experiencing difficulties, but also how our club’s environment and culture attempts to prevent them from arising.
"We have many projects going on in the community where the club’s facilities are open for people of all ages to come and simply have a chat, whether that be one on one, over a cuppa or while playing dominoes in the John Moore Lounge.
"We pay the Real Living wage so our staff aren’t simply working to exist, but are able to enjoy their lives away from their job without the anxiety that comes with wondering whether they can afford to put the heating on or where the next meal is coming from.
"We support many local and national charities, and along with the football world, we are learning with every passing day to encourage our players to speak more about any challenges they may have.
"Our coaches and staff attend regular mental health training workshops designed to help them cope with situations that arise, because just as we employ physios and sports scientists to treat physical injuries, we recognise that we all have mental health that needs looking after too.
"It is fantastic that campaigns like 'Heads Up' are bringing the focus of the football world on the need to take time to talk, and we wholeheartedly support Mind and the Duke of Cambridge, and thank him for his efforts in raising awareness of such an important topic."
EFL chairman Rick Parry said: “Through our ground-breaking partnership with Mind, the EFL and its clubs have worked hard to improve the approach to mental health in football and wider society, over the past two seasons.
“Football provides a platform like no other to raise awareness and tackle society’s biggest issues and we’re proud to offer our support to the Heads Up campaign, as football comes together to further encourage the conversation around mental health. I look forward to seeing the impact over the two weekends.”
Whether you or someone you know is struggling, or if you want to help dispel the stigma, kick off a conversation about mental health this weekend.
Join the conversation using #KickOffAConversation and #HeadsUp.
Find out more and get tips from Heads Up’s charity partners (Mind, CALM, Sporting Chance and Heads Together) – visit www.headstogether.org.uk/heads-up.
Those wanting immediate support can also text ‘HeadsUp’ to 85258 to connect with a trained crisis volunteer – a service run by ‘Shout’ and powered by Crisis Text Line, which is available 24/7 and free to text from most mobile networks.