The #ReachOut campaign has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the influential Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to underline the importance of recognizing symptoms of deteriorating mental health early.
In a joint press release with the WHO, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “This campaign is very important to raise awareness about mental illness and encourage a conversation that can save a life.
“In FIFA’s Vision 2020-2023, we pledge our commitment to making football work for society, and I thank the players and Ms Enke, who contributed to this important initiative.
“Depression and anxiety are affecting more and more people worldwide, and young people are among the most vulnerable. Having a conversation with family, friends, or a healthcare provider can be vital. FIFA is proud to launch this campaign, supported by WHO and ASEAN to encourage people to use #ReachOut.”
The campaign features some of football’s most legendary players, including Aline, Vero Boquete, Cafu, Laura Georges, Luis García, Shabani Nonda, Patrizia Panico, Fara Williams and Walter Zenga.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is as important as ever to take care of our mental and physical healthsaid Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization. “WHO is happy to support the #ReachOut campaign, led by FIFA, to encourage people to talk about their mental health.”
FIFA.com also highlights the former Bolton Wanderers and Team GB attacker, Marvin Sordell and Sonny Pike, who was dubbed the “next big thing” at age 14, talk about their experiences living and playing with depression.
Teresa Enke also discusses the pain of losing a loved one to suicide, and her work with the Robert Enke Foundation.
Depression affects more than 260 million people in the world, while about half of all mental illness begins at age 14, according to the press release. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29.
Of active football players, 23 percent report having disturbed sleep, while nine percent have reported depression and another seven percent have anxiety.
Anxiety after retirement
Among retired players, these numbers are on the rise, with 28% having trouble sleeping and depression and anxiety affecting 13% and 11% respectively, according to FIFA.
Working from home, unemployment, school closures and social isolation have affected people around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic; the challenges for people with mental illness, for whom access to treatment has in many cases been disrupted, are even greater.
The video awareness campaign features former greats, current players and special guests, who have lent their support to this mental health campaign and sometimes share their life experiences.
ASEAN Secretary General Dato Lim Jock Hoi said: “Mental health and well-being are just as important as physical health and safety. Under the chairmanship of Brunei Darussalam, ASEAN is taking steps to promote cooperation with external partners in the field of mental health, to provide the ASEAN community with necessary and appropriate mental health services and psychosocial support.”
In 2019, WHO and FIFA signed a four-year partnership to promote a healthy lifestyle through football worldwide.
The two organizations jointly launched a COVID-19 campaign in March 2020 to exchange advice on effective measures to protect people, followed by the #BeActive campaign the following month, to encourage people to stay healthy at home. during the pandemic. Subsequently, the #SafeHome campaign was launched to support people at risk of domestic violence.
More recently, the two organizations teamed up at the FIFA Club World Cup to promote #ACToether to promote the need for fair access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, and to encourage people to continue to adopt life-saving, daily public health measures. to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and protect health.