On the opening day of Mental Health Awareness Week last month (9-15 May), the English Football League (EFL) and its charity partner, Mind, unveiled a unique exhibition celebrating four years of collaboration at the National Football Museum in Manchester.
The ‘On Your Side’ partnership concludes at the end of the 2021/22 season, having raised awareness of mental health amongst football fans, improved the approach to mental health within the EFL and raised vital funds for Mind’s life-saving services.
Across the four years, highlights have included:
- Mind’s logo featured on the back of EFL shirts at over 7,000 matches and reaching more than 18 million people each year
- Mind raised funds and awareness at 93 dedicated matchdays including 20 EFL Wembley finals
- Over 2,600 staff at EFL clubs have been trained in mental health awareness
- More than 5,800 people took part in the ‘Get Set To Go’ programme which encouraged those with mental health problems to get physically active.
Speaking at the launch of the exhibition, EFL chair, Rick Parry, said: “Over the past four seasons, our partnership with Mind has been instrumental in creating a significant cultural change towards mental health within football. It is proof of the progress made that we are now able to have this special exhibition dedicated to mental health in England’s national football museum.
“With the support of our 72 clubs and Club Community Organisations, the partnership has provided players, staff and fans across the football community with an important platform to raise awareness but also positively impact people’s lives.
"Mental Health Awareness Week presents us with another opportunity to continue the conversation and I hope many people are able to enjoy this exhibition over the coming weeks.”
Mind chief executive, Paul Farmer, said: “We’re tremendously proud of all that we have achieved together with the EFL over the past four seasons. We know the power that football has to create change, not least around mental health. For many people the On Your Side partnership has not only been life-changing but life-saving.
“Seeing highlights of this truly game-changing partnership take pride of place in the National Football Museum is fantastic. We hope that as many fans as possible get a chance to see the exhibition and that it serves as a reminder that, whoever you support, Mind will always be here to support you.”
Cameron Miller, who first reached out for help from Mind when he saw their squiggle on the back of Charlton Athletic’s shirts said: “The partnership has been amazing at taking something unfamiliar to many fans, like mental health, and bringing it into the very familiar world of football. Seeing the squiggle on the backs of the shirts felt like I’d been given permission to start on my journey to getting support.”
The National Football Museum will keep the exhibit open to the public for the next seven weeks and people can book a visit via here.
To find out more information about the ‘On Your Side’ partnership, please visit: mind.org.uk/EFL