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Editor-in-chief at The Drum

Public Health England delays FA Cup games to encourage mental health mindfulness

Public Health England has teamed up with the FA Cup to delay its third round of fixtures this weekend (4 January) by one minute to instead encourage fans to focus on their mental health.

The historic first is part of the government body’s ‘Every Mind Matters’ initiative which directs people to an NHS advice service with tools designed to help people better manage their mental health and wellbeing.

Heads Together, the project spearheaded by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex looks to tackle stigma and change the conversation on mental health via fundraising for crucial services.

It has a season-long Heads Up partnership with the FA. This rallies around a minute-long film narrated by Prince William, starring famous faces from the world of football including Frank Lampard, Harry Maguire and Alex Scott.

Using football as a platform to drive discussion on mental health, the spot asks fans to ‘take a minute’ to consider their own wellbeing and act if needed. While the collaboration is aimed at everyone, including players, supporters, friends and families, the FA has recognised that the beautiful game can be a powerful way to reach men in particular.

Of the 15 million-plus football fans in England, 69% are men, and Public Health England’s research has shown that men are less likely than women to seek help or take self-care actions for early signs of common mental health concerns.

The film will be played across stadiums, broadcast and social media as kick-off times across all Emirates FA Cup Third Round fixtures are delayed by 60 seconds from Saturday (4 January).

Matchday collateral, including programme advertorial and LED boards will underline the message, and national and regional PR, TV, VOD and targeted social media activity during the FA Cup Third Round fixtures will extend reach.

The ‘Every Mind Matters’ platform initially launched in October 2019 with a one-off broadcast of a three-minute film narrated by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Since the film was launched via a roadblock across ITV, Channel 4 and Sky channels, over a million ‘Mind Plans’ have been completed, using a free, NHS-assured tool from Every Mind Matters.

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