This August 2020, the EFL and Mind are celebrating the two year anniversary of our ‘On Your Side’ partnership.
The partnership, which has recently been extended for at least another two seasons, was established to raise awareness of mental health amongst fans and the wider public, help raise funds for Mind to deliver life changing services and to improve the approach to mental health in the EFL and Clubs.
In the past two years there have been some fantastic moments and milestones, signs of cultural change amongst fans and Clubs and some great results that demonstrate the positive impact of the partnership.
Mind’s logo features on the back of EFL shirts, reaching 18 million people. 18 million is the number of fans usually attending fixtures in a regular season, including EFL Wembley Finals.
During the 2019/20 season, ten players and managers from across the League became ‘On Your Side’ champions, spreading vital messages about mental health. They were all interviewed by Charlie Webster or Scott Minto and videos of these interviews were communicated via social media for Mental Health Awareness Week 2020.
Players from across the League wore their shirts backwards and shared photos of them doing so to encourage fans to ‘Have Your Mate’s Back’ in support of mental health in football. of the campaign attracted interest from football fans, EFL Community Club Organisations, journalists, Soccer AM, Quest, EFL Commercial partners, organisations in the sport sector as well as fantastic support from county FAs, their football teams and college sport teams.
Mind is working towards raising funds and awareness at 78 Mind match days at EFL clubs and Wembley Finals. To date, Mind match days have been held at 55 clubs and 6 Wembley finals (61 match days in total) in seasons 2018/19 and 2019/20. Once fans are allowed to return to watch live games the 17 match days cancelled this season due to coronavirus will be rescheduled.
We have seen some fantastic signs of cultural change amongst fans over the past 2 years. For example:
930 staff in EFL clubs and Club Community Organisations have received mental health training from local Minds. The feedback from this training was overwhelming positive with 98% of staff reporting that it changed their attitudes towards and beliefs about mental health. A further 1,523 Club Community Organisation staff and volunteers received mental health training for sport and physical activity providers, online.
All EFL clubs have been supportive of the EFL and Mind partnership by communicating key messages about mental health to fans. There are however some particularly special gestures that we have seen from clubs. For example:
The ‘Get Set to Go’ programme, that aims to help people with mental health problems get physically active, was extended to include nine EFL Community Club Organisations, thereby targeting football fans in the community. A structured physical activity programme can help to reduce the risk of developing depression by as much as 30%. Our research shows that Get Set to Go helps people to build social connections and to manage their mental health problems through peer based group activity. The clubs involved are Charlton Athletic, Millwall, Carlisle United, Derby County, Wimbledon AFC, Stevenage, Newport County, Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been raised throughout the partnership in a variety of ways ranging from selling On Your Side club badges, events such as the Mind United Hike in 2019, bucket collecting at match days, as well as individuals going out of their way to raise money for Mind through their own sponsored challenges.
The partnership won Gold in the Football Business Awards 2019 (Partnership of the Year) and Silver in the Sports Business Awards 2019 (Best Sports Charity or best use of sport by a charity). The pandemic has disrupted several other Awards but the partnership is still currently shortlisted for: PR Moment awards 2020 (Not-for-profit Campaign of the Year) for the Goals Worth Talking About campaign, two categories at the UK Sponsorship Awards 2020 (Best use of sponsorship to encourage diversity and inclusion, and Best social purpose sponsorship).
There has been a 36% increase in awareness of the EFL and Mind partnership amongst the general male population (Mind’s Charity Awareness Monitoring Survey, 2020), an increase in fans talking about mental health (EFL Survey December 2019) and an increased awareness of Mind, again amongst fans (EFL Survey December 2019).