The English Football League (EFL) will today see its Clubs, CCOs and their communities do a ‘Mile For Mind' to mark this year's Mental Health Awareness Week, taking place from 10 – 16 May 2021.As part of the EFL's ‘On Your Side' partnership with Mind, people of all ages and abilities are encouraged to do a ‘Mile For Mind' to help raise awareness of mental health and donate much-needed funds to support Mind.
The activity will see some EFL Clubs open up their stadiums to allow participants to do a ‘Mile For Mind' by lapping the perimeter of the pitch – for many, this will be the first time in over a year they have set foot inside their local Club's home grounds and a step towards a safe return of fans to stadia across the country.
Individuals taking part can do their ‘Mile For Mind' however they wish, be it walking, skipping, jumping or hopping in parks and open public spaces to home gardens and housing estates.
With one in four of us experiencing a mental health problem each year, the EFL and Mind is asking for every one person taking part in ‘Mile For Mind' to nominate a further three friends, family members or colleagues to join in.
Throughout Mental Health Awareness Week, Clubs across the country will be supporting the initiative, including Doncaster FC where Club mascot Donny Dog will lead local school children in a ‘Mile For Mind' around the pitch at the Keepmoat Stadium and participants from Walsall FC's mental health football programme ‘Beat the Block' will head pitchside at Bank's Stadium to raise funds for Mind.
Blackburn Rovers player, Tyrhys Dolan, was among the first to kick-off ‘Mile For Mind' alongside members of the Club's ‘Jack's Walkers' at Ewood Park. Speaking about the initiative, Tyrhys said: “Mental health work is very important to me. I've struggled personally and I think it's so important to raise awareness. If we keep putting positivity out there, it can go such a long way.
“A lot of people have been isolated this year, so for them to come back to the stadium and see one of the players was great, I think it will keep them looking forward. It's been a blessing for me to come here and do what I love every single day, and just to be doing this today has put a smile on my face – it's lifted me.”
The EFL and Mind ‘On Your Side' charity partnership launched ahead of the 2018/19 Season with the aim of raising awareness of mental health, improving the approach to mental health in football and to raise funds to deliver life-changing support. Since then, the partnership has successfully delivered award-winning campaigns in the fight for better mental health within football.
EFL Chief Executive, Trevor Birch, said: “There's no hiding from the struggles many of us have faced during the pandemic and the effects this has had on mental health. This makes the work we are delivering through our partnership with Mind more important than ever, harnessing the power of football to help improve the nation's mental health and wellbeing.
“As restrictions continue to ease across the country, we look forward to seeing fans and communities come together to enjoy the country's national game inside our stadiums and hope that this will impact positively on the mental wellbeing of supporters.”
Paul Farmer, CEO, Mind, said: “Mental Health Awareness Week is a time when the spotlight is very much on mental health, so we're delighted to join with the EFL to launch ‘Mile For Mind'. We hope that fans get behind us this week, in whatever way they choose to do their Mile For Mind, to show that they support our fight for better mental health. By doing your Mile For Mind you are not only helping us to raise greater awareness about mental health but also vital funds for our services, at a time when more people than ever have felt the impact of the pandemic on their mental health.
“Through our partnership with the EFL we have already been able to extend the life-changing services we provide to more people across the country. With the support of EFL fans and Clubs we want to continue to be game-changers in the way football tackles mental health. For anyone who's mental health has been affected by the pandemic our message remains the same: whoever you support, Mind is here to support you.”