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Around FIFA

#ReachOut for better mental health­

4 min. reading time

The importance of raising awareness around mental health is more pertinent than ever. In 2021, FIFA launched its #ReachOut campaign to do just that.

In August 2021, FIFA – in collaboration with the World Health Organization and supported by the European Commission – launched #ReachOut. The initiative formed part of an ongoing campaign designed to raise awareness of the symptoms of mental health conditions, encourage peopleto seek help when they need it, and take action every day for better mental health.

A vast number of FIFA Legends took part in the video-led campaign, including Aline, Vero Boquete, Cafu, Laura Georges, Luis García, Shabani Nonda, Patrizia Panico, Fara Williams and Walter Zenga.

The #ReachOut campaign was also supported by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which produced a powerful video featuring past and present stars of ASEAN football. Players from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam all united to reinforce reminders about good habits and observation techniques to be aware if a friend, colleague or team-mate may be suffering in silence.

The players and organisers at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup and FIFA Futsal World Cup in Russiaand Lithuania respectively also played their part in promoting the worthy campaign.

Teresa Enke, wife of the former Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke, who tragically took his own life in 2009, also joined to discuss her experiences of losing a loved one to suicide and talk about her work with the Robert Enke Foundation.

The campaign was shared across FIFA’s digital channels and multimedia toolkits were provided to the 211 FIFA member associations and media agencies for distribution around the world.

The acceptance of needing to talk to someone is difficult. I guess I was crying out, through my actions, when I was ill that I needed to talk, I wanted to talk, but I needed somebody to initiate that for me.
Fara Williams
Former England international
It’s a good moment to understand that, behind the footballer, behind the businessman, behind the worker, is a human being. And that human being will have the same issues any human being has.
Roberto Martínez
Belgium head coach

Positively impacting society through football is one of the 11 key goals in the FIFA President’s Vision 2020-2023, and there is ample evidence of this on display every day. By its very nature, football is a game that unites people from all walks of life. It provides a sense of community, companionship and compassion in a way that nothing else does. 

At the campaign’s launch, FIFA President Gianni Infantino underlined the key role that football’s global community can play in tackling the issue. He said: “This campaign is very important in raising awareness about mental healthconditions 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.”

This campaign is very important in raising awareness about mental health conditions and encouraging a conversation which could save a life.
Gianni Infantino
FIFA President
It’s about trying to talk and getting relief from some of the [negative] thoughts you might be having or things that happened to you that day. It’s also about sharing them with someone who can give you the tools to deal with these kinds of situations when they next arise.
Luis García
Former Atlético Madrid, Liverpool, Barcelona and Spain midfielder

"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, to encourage people to #ReachOut.”

To mark the launch of the European Commission’s HealthyLifeStyle4All initiative, the FIFA President also pledged to support people in Europe and beyond in looking after their mental well-being through #ReachOut.

Depression affects more than 260 million people in the world, while around half of all mental health conditions start by the age of 14

Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in young people aged 15-29

Among active football players, 23% report sleep disturbance

9% of active players have reported depression and a further 7% suffer from anxiety