Football

FIFA tango with WHO on mental health campaign

FIFA

FIFA has announced a new campaign to raise awareness of mental health conditions and encourage people to seek help when needed.

ReachOut, launched in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is supported by World Cup winner Cafu, Champions League winner Luis Garcia and ex-Italy goalkeeper Walter Zenga. Former Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke died from suicide in 2009 and his wife Teresa is involved in the project.

“This campaign is very important in raising awareness about mental health conditions and encouraging a conversation which could save a life,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said. “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. Having a conversation with family, friends or a healthcare professional can be key. FIFA is proud to launch this campaign, supported by the World Health Organization and ASEAN to encourage people to #ReachOut.”

FIFA’s statement adds: “Depression affects more than 260 million people in the world while around half of all mental health conditions start by age 14.

Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in young people aged 15-29. Among active football players, 23% report sleep disturbance, while 9% have reported depression and a further 7% suffer from anxiety.

Among retired players, these figures increase, with 28% struggling to sleep and depression and anxiety affecting 13% and 11% respectively.

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