The EFL and its 72 clubs have today launched ‘Team Talk’, in an effort to urge supporters to talk and stay connected throughout the Christmas and January period and keep the conversation around mental health going.
New research into men’s mental health suggests that, while some progress has been made, men feel worried or low more regularly than 10 years ago and are consequently twice as likely to feel suicidal.
The findings are part of ‘Get It Off Your Chest: Men’s mental health 10 years on’ – a report commissioned by Mind as part of its charity partnership with the League. The report compares new polling data from YouGov* with results from 2009 to understand how the challenges facing men’s mental health have changed over the past 10 years. Results show that one of the top alternatives to medication includes social activity, which during the pandemic has been difficult for many people, especially football supporters with matches being behind closed doors until the recent return of a very small number of fans to EFL fixtures in limited areas of the country. To help keep supporters connected to their clubs, Team Talk sessions will informally bring fans together (virtually or in-person where safe to do so) to talk about football – helping them stay connected during what can be a difficult time of year for many.
The sessions build on the excellent community work of clubs throughout the pandemic which has included befriending phone calls, online social groups, a pen-pal scheme, social action from young people taking part in NCS and socially distanced ‘garden gate’ conversations across EFL communities to reach the people who require this vital support right when they need it the most.
Rick Parry, EFL chairman, said: “This year has been incredibly challenging for so many people, and we know football supporters have missed the camaraderie and sense of community that attending a live football match brings. Although we have welcomed supporters back to matches in limited numbers, we know many people are still unable to attend and are missing watching their football team in-person with family and friends.
“EFL clubs are the cornerstone of their communities and through the network of 72 clubs, the EFL is in a unique position to reach millions of football fans who may be suffering in silence with their mental health. The Team Talk campaign builds on the excellent work of clubs during the pandemic in helping some of the most vulnerable in society at such a critical time.”
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “It’s really positive that men are more likely to seek help from the NHS and talk to friends and family about their mental health than they were 10 years ago. As a society, we have become more open about mental health in the last decade as campaigns such as Mind’s partnership with the English Football League (EFL) have helped to shift stigmatising attitudes and behaviours, and this may be beginning to filter through.
“Men still tell us that they are not always getting the help they need for their mental health. Sometimes they don’t know where to go for help or what’s on offer might not be suitable for them. Our survey suggests that a wider range of options might be needed, such as physical activity and social activities, alongside access to talking therapies and medication.
"Ultimately, men are still three times as likely to take their own life their own life as women, so there is much more to do to ensure men can ask for help and can get the right support when they need it.”
Key report findings:
Two in five men (43 per cent) admit to regularly feeling worried or low, an increase from 37 per cent in 2009
The number of men who have suicidal thoughts when feeling worried or low has doubled to 10 per cent since 2009
Men are now almost three times more likely to see a therapist when worried or low than in 2009
Men are now equally as willing as women to see their GP if they feel worried or low, a large increase since 2009
Men’s preferred alternatives to being prescribed medication are face-to-face therapy and physical activity
Men are still more likely than women to drink alone, go to the pub with friends, or take recreational drugs to relax when feeling worried or down
Over a third of men (37 per cent) say social media has a negative impact on how they feel
The number of men who are worried about their appearance has risen from 18 per cent in 2009 to 23 per cent
The number of men who say that nothing would put them off finding help if they were feeling low has decreased by almost a fifth since 2009
Men would be more likely to seek support if they felt worried or low if it was made available online, if they were guaranteed anonymity, or if help was made available at more convenient times of day
The full report can be found here: https://www.mind.org.uk/media/6771/get-it-off-your-chest_a4_final.pdf * All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,111 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10–11 September 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).