Prince William and Duchess Kate set to launch new mental health initiative

By Zach Harper

Prince William and Duchess Kate are launching an exciting new campaign this Sunday (Aug. 4) that will use Britain’s pastime – soccer – to help people talk about mental health.

Heads Up is a collaboration between the Football Association and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Heads Together initiative. Its goal is to “spark the biggest conversation ever around mental health,” according to the FA’s website.

William spoke with soccer players, coaches and fans from across the UK when announcing the initiative in May. Photo: © Chris Jackson - WPA Pool /Getty Images

“Heads Up will harness the influence and popularity of football to help show the nation that we all have mental health, and it is just as important as physical health,” Kensington Palace tweeted in announcing the news.

The FA’s website says while British people “won’t go a day without talking about” soccer, many find talking about mental health – be it their own, or someone else’s – very difficult.

“With our new campaign… we want everyone to feel comfortable talking about their mental health, in the same way they would about football, and feel able to support their friends and families through difficult times,” the site reads.

“Heads Up will illustrate that everyone should prioritize maintaining their mental fitness as well as their physical fitness.”

It goes on to say the campaign will provide “resources, training and direction towards support when needed” during the soccer season.

The campaign will be held over the next year before the FA Cup Final in 2020, and will particularly target men. Back in May, when the initiative was first announced, Prince William said he thought men find it “difficult to talk about” mental health.

“I think emotions, feelings, are kind of like a bit alien over here – we don’t really want to touch them too much because we’re worried about how we’re going to react or how people think about us.”

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This brings two things close to William’s heart – soccer and mental health – together. William serves as the President of the FA, and said in May that he wanted to use the work he and Kate have done on mental wellness and his position with the soccer body to “help lead the next phase of conversation.”

The Cambridges have long been passionate about mental health. Earlier this year, they teamed up with Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan to launch a new initiative, Shout, that helps young people in crisis. It is a 24-hour service that connects people with volunteers who help them in their moment of need, and also assists them with finding long-term support for their mental health struggles.

These trained volunteers, with support from professionals, will reply to texts from people potentially struggling with suicidal thoughts, abuse, self-harm, bullying and other issues related to relationships. Shout has 1,000 volunteers, and father of three William hopes to quadruple that number in the year. He has reached out to the public to help.

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