Mental Health Foundation urges football fans to stop ‘shouldering pain alone’

8 December 2016

The Mental Health Foundation has begun rolling out display advertisements aimed at men attending football grounds in response to the culture of men shouldering pain alone. The Foundation is calling on football fans to ‘support each other as much as their teams.’

Mark Rowland, Director at the Mental Health Foundation said “football gives us a common ground to connect on, but there’s a danger we can confuse being surrounded by a big group of people with friends we can count on when we’re really not doing ‘fine’.

“Men can often feel isolated and unable to tell people how they are feeling – a culture of men shouldering pain alone has developed. With men three times as likely to end their life by suicide, we have a duty to question our culture and ask what more we can do. We stick with our football teams through good times and bad – men need to support each other as much as their teams.”

The Foundation recently found that men are much less likely to seek support for mental health problems than women, after commissioning a huge survey of over 2500 people who have had mental health problems.

It found that 28% of men admitted they had never sought medical help for their mental health problem, compared to 19% of women. Men were also much less likely to tell their friends about a mental health problem.

Mark Rowland said “Men can be some of the most difficult people to reach. We know from our research that they’re much less likely to seek mental health help, and we want them to know that help is available.”

“This campaign is about being more honest with ourselves. It takes courage to be honest when we’re not feeling okay.”

The campaign has received the backing of Premier League Champions, Leicester City Football Club. A Spokesperson said: “We’re delighted to be able to help the Mental Health Foundation promote an important message at King Power Stadium – a place that sees thousands of Leicester City fans show their unwavering support to their team every week. Extending that support to each other can make a huge difference and we’re happy to see the ‘I’m Fine’ campaign message delivered to those who need it.”

The campaign has also received the backing of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), its Chief Executive Gordon Taylor OBE said “We at the PFA are very happy to support the ‘I’m fine’ campaign. Mental welfare is an issue that needs a ‘team of supporters’”.

The Foundations  ‘I’m Fine’ campaign hopes to reach men who may not be feeling fine, but would feel more comfortable texting their anonymous tips service than telling friends.

Advertising banners urging men to text TIPS to 70300 for a series of free tips on how to support good mental health will be trailed at two premier league games over the Christmas period; at Leicester City v Manchester City on December 10th and West Bromwich Albion v Manchester United on December 17th. The campaign is estimated to reach 20 million fans in total (including TV viewers).