Prince William is working on a documentary that will use soccer to tackle mental health

By Zach Harper

Prince William is helping make a documentary that unites one of his biggest loves with one of his key causes: soccer and mental health.

The Duke of Cambridge, who is the president of the Football Association, will work with the sport’s governing body and the BBC on A Royal Road to Wembley: Tackling Mental Health.

The production aims to show how men across the UK struggle with mental health issues and encourage those who are struggling to seek help. The film will use soccer to explain why “mental health is just as important as our physical health,” as William said earlier this month when he encouraged soccer fans to nurture their “everyday mental fitness.” He made the comments when he launched Heads Up, a mental health collaboration between the Royal Family’s Heads Together and the FA.

“It’s widely recognized that football is a uniquely powerful way to reach men in particular,” a press release about the project reads. “Men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women, with suicide the biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45.

“The film hopes to highlight the fact that we all have mental health and encourage more men to feel comfortable talking about their mental health, and feel able to support their friends and families through difficult times.”

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

The film was commissioned by BBC1 and as mentioned, is being supported by Heads Together, the mental health initiative founded by William, Duchess Kate and Prince Harry. It will follow the entire soccer season through to the FA Cup Final and look at initiatives “from the Premier League down to the grassroots projects” some fans and athletes have started about mental health. It will also see the prince having conversations with athletes and fans about mental health, how they take care of theirs, and what people need to do.

“With suicide still the biggest killer of men under 45, it’s crucial that we normalize conversations about mental health,” Alison Kikham, BBC Controller of Factual Commissioning, said in a statement.

She pointed out that earlier in the year, when William collaborated with the BBC on A Royal Team Talk , there was a spike in people accessing mental health awareness websites and helplines.

“I’m proud that working once again with the Duke of Cambridge and the FA, we can use the power of football to continue to raise awareness of an issue that is so important to our audience.”

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

The Cambridges have long been passionate about mental health. Earlier this year, they teamed up with 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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