By G9ija

FIFA has launched its #ReachOut video campaign centred on raising mental health awareness and encouraging people to seek help when they need it.

Videos feature a host of former footballers, special guests, and current players, while each member association, as well as the media, will receive assets to spread the campaign.

The #ReachOut campaign is being supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN), featuring players from 10 of FIFA’s member associations.

ASEAN’s 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 advance cooperation with external partners on mental health, in order to provide the ASEAN community with the necessary and appropriate mental health and psychosocial support services.”

Contributors to #ReachOut include Brazilian legend Cafu, former Spanish winger Luis Garcia and former England midfielder Fara Williams.

Former Premier League striker Marvin Sordell and Sonny Pike, labelled the “next big thing” aged 14, also shared their personal experiences of depression, while Teresa Enke of the Robert Enke Foundation discussed the tragedy of losing her husband to suicide.

After the campaign was launched, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “This campaign is very important in raising awareness about mental health conditions and encouraging a conversation which could save a life.

“In FIFA’s Vision 2020-2023, we pledge our commitment to make football work for society, and I thank the players and Ms Enke, who have contributed to this important initiative.

“Depression and anxiety affect rising numbers of people worldwide, and young people are among the most vulnerable.

FIFA Legends and @WHO have helped FIFA launch #ReachOut, a campaign designed to raise awareness of the symptoms of mental health conditions, encourage people to seek help when they need it, and take actions every day for better mental health.

“Having a conversation with family, friends or a healthcare professional can be key.

“FIFA is proud to launch this campaign, supported by the WHO and ASEAN to encourage people to #ReachOut.”

According to a study by the world players’ union FIFPro, 23 per cent of current footballers report sleep disturbance, nine per cent have reported depression and seven per cent suffer from anxiety.

Those figures increase to 28 per cent, 13 per cent and 11 per cent for retired players respectively.

More than 260 million people around the world are affected by depression.

Around half of all mental health conditions start by the age of 14, and suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in people aged 15 to 29.

With the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on people’s lives amplifying issues surrounding social isolation and access to mental health treatment, the WHO has pledged its support to the #ReachOut campaign, with its director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus remarking: “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is as important as ever to look after our mental and physical health.

“WHO is delighted to support the #ReachOut campaign, spearheaded by FIFA to encourage people to talk about their mental health.”

This builds on existing partnerships between FIFA and the WHO, including a campaign to promote football to support healthy living, the #BeActive campaign during the pandemic, and the #SafeHome campaign aimed against domestic violence in May 2020.

Football’s governing body also announced an agreement with FIFPro this May to support footballers with difficulties associated with retirement.