On World Mental Health Day, 10 October, it will have been more than 18 months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In some countries, life is returning to some semblance of normality; in others, rates of transmission and hospital admissions remain high, disrupting the lives of families and communities. In all countries, the pandemic has had a major impact on people’s mental health. FIFA launched #ReachOut, a campaign designed to raise awareness of the symptoms of mental health conditions, encourage people to seek help when they need it, and take actions every day for better mental health. Supported by the World Health Organisation, #ReachOut aims to raise awareness of the symptoms of mental health conditions, encourage people to seek help when they need it, and take actions every day for better mental health, with the support of past and current football players.
FIFA’s 1300 strong Fan Movement from over 110 countries - a community, composed of freestylers, artists, passionate club fans and gamers alike - have been spreading awareness and messages of support too. During the pandemic, Fan Movement members rallied together to promote an inclusive and empowering attitude to mental health, often sharing their stories on Instagram. Through reaching out and supporting each other in community video calls, and content challenges on social media, the community has given them a safe space to be both open and vulnerable with one another. “Just knowing that there are people who actually care and want to know how you’re doing is a big deal for someone that suffers with their mental health,” explains Mel Robb, a Fan Movement member from the USA. “Every time I feel alone, or I feel there’s no-one around me, I always know that there is a big football community there for me… I can reach out to people, and they’re there.”
Here they share their stories of how reaching out has helped them to overcome mental health challenges. Together, they share a powerful message that when faced with mental health hurdles, reach out - and be there for your close ones when they reach out too. Through football, these community members are reminded that they are never alone and always have someone to listen. Thank you to Fan Movement members Mel, Oscar, Jammy, Sarah, Indi, Peter, Juan Andrés, Chloe, John and Jaspreet for sharing their stories with us.
Befrienders Worldwide Befrienders Worldwide provides help and support to those in distress or suicidal, around the world. Visit https://www.befrienders.org/ and https://www.befrienders.org/other-helpline-organisations to find support in your country. Please note, while every effort is made to ensure information is accurate, FIFA is not responsible for the content of external websites. If you are in immediate danger, please call your local emergency services. Support for professional football players can be accessed through FIFPRO.