Three of London's biggest football clubs will take part in a special series of football matches to promote mental health awareness.
The Mind Series, hosted by mental health charity Mind, will see Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham face off against each other in three pre-season friendlies this August.
Any funds raised by the games will be shared between Mind and each of the football clubs' Foundations, all of which are involved in community projects that promote mental wellbeing.
The series of games aim to make use of the global reach of all the clubs involved to to raise awareness of mental health at a time when the country begins to emerge from COVID-19 restrictions.
According to Mind, the pandemic has led to a significant increase in demand for the charity's Infoline signposting service, while a 2020 survey by the charity of 16,000 people found that 2 in 3 young people and 3 in 5 adults had experienced a deterioration in their mental health during the first lockdown.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal the ongoing impact of the pandemic too, showing that 1 in 5 UK adults are currently experiencing symptoms of depression, compared with 1 in 10 prior to the pandemic.
“We’re delighted that Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have come together to back Mind’s work through the Mind Series," said Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind. "We know from our work in the sector, including our charity partnership with the EFL, that football has the power to create real change, not least around mental health.
"The platform that these three huge clubs can provide us with will allow us to get our message out to thousands more people that they have somewhere to turn when they need support."
In recent years, Mind has launched several football-related projects to help raise awareness of mental health issues.
Most notably, the charity struck up a partnership with the English Football League in 2018 to sponsor all 72 teams involved in the Championship, League One and League Two divisions.
Early last year, the 'On Your Side' collaboration was extended until at least the end of 2022.
Further joint projects include the 'Goals Worth Talking About' campaign to mark World Mental Health Day in 2019, and the 'Get Set to Go' campaign encouraging people with mental health issues to increase their physical activity.
The Mind Series schedule of matches will be as follows:
Arsenal v Chelsea: Sunday 1st August, Emirates Stadium, 3 pm kick-off
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur: Wednesday 4th August, Stamford Bridge, 7.45 pm kick-off
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal: Sunday 8th August, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, 2 pm kick-off
For more information about Mind’s work in football, click here.
Written by Marco Ricci
Editor and contributor for Talking Mental Health