Prince William has urged athletes to “talk about the mental well being” of both sportspeople and fans.
The 37-year-old royal is known for his work in bringing awareness to mental health through his charity initiative Heads Up – which he founded with his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and brother Prince Harry – and has now specifically asked for help from sporting stars to “encourage people to open up” about their mental health, as well as promote “a mentally healthy culture” in sport.
William spoke as the sporting world is beginning to get back on its feet following the coronavirus pandemic, with Premier League football in the UK set to return on Wednesday (17.06.20), and the FA Cup – for which William is the President – resuming with the quarter-finals on June 27.
READ: FA Cup final renamed to promote mental health awareness
Speaking in a remotely-held roundtable discussion with several elite athletes, Prince William said: “Through the Heads Up campaign, the football community has come together to do its part in driving lasting change by encouraging people to open up about their mental wellbeing, at the same time as embedding a mentally healthy culture across the sport.
“I believe that there is more we can do collectively to ensure this is replicated across all of sport. And that is why I am so happy to be here with you all to discuss how we can make that a reality. We have a unique opportunity to use the tragedy of the pandemic to bring about positive change. As the sporting world begins to return it is vital that we talk about the mental wellbeing of our sportspeople and fans.”
Meanwhile, it was recently announced the 2020 FA Cup final – which will take place on August 1st – will be renamed to the Heads Up FA Cup final to promote mental health awareness.
In a statement announcing the change, William said last week: “It’s quite timely bearing in mind what we’ve all been through with this pandemic (COVID-19). I think there’s going to be, sadly, a lot of repercussions from this in society, not just in football, in terms of people’s mental health.
“Hopefully the FA Cup can be a bit of a pivot that people can rally around.”