Stars of EFL Clubs turned heads at King’s Cross today on World Mental Health Day, as part of a live exhibit highlighting the role football can play in tackling mental health problems.
Highlighting the statistic that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year, James Shea (Luton Town), Deji Oshilaja (AFC Wimbledon), Luke Prosser (Colchester Utd) and Darius Charles (Wycombe Wanderers) surprised football fans and commuters by taking centre stage at a special temporary installation on the King’s Cross station concourse, on behalf of the English Football League (EFL) and its charity partner, the mental health charity Mind.
The four players each spent half an hour within the live exhibit posing as footballers with visible and invisible health problems, in full view of passengers within the station.
To highlight the key 1 in 4 statistic, three of the footballers demonstrated clearly physical health problems, whilst the remaining player, who on the face of it appeared unhurt, represented the fact that you can also experience problems with your mental health and that, although these can’t always be seen, they should be treated with equal importance.
The exhibition, which will remain open throughout World Mental Health Day, highlights that every year dozens of EFL managers, hundreds of EFL footballers, and hundreds of thousands of EFL club supporters will be living with a mental health problem. Many of them feeling unable to reach out for support.
The activity comes as part of a football season in which EFL and Mind have joined forces in a pioneering partnership that seeks to use the power of football to improve the nation’s mental health.
Newport County AFC is also doing its bit to support the work of Newport Mind (which works under the umbrella of Mind). Yesterday, director Colin Faulkner delivered a Newport County AFC home shirt specially printed with "Mind 18" on the back to the Newport Mind Offices.
The Club opted to send a junior shirt as - in conjunction with the Club's continued efforts to support local charities - we have donated the fronts of our Junior Retail Home and Away shirts to Changing Minds this season.
We have also introduced the U18s Academy Team to the importance of talking about mental health and we will be dedicating Saturday's match vs Stevenage to Newport Mind by hosting a bucket collection and information point at the ground.
Speaking at today's exhibition at Kings Cross Station, Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, said: "We all have mental health just as we have physical health and both are equally important to look after. Whether you’re a star striker or season ticket-holder you shouldn’t have to live in fear about opening up and getting support for either your physical or mental health. We’re delighted to have joined with the EFL to create the On Your Side charity Partnership to make sure that no one has to tackle a mental health problem alone. Today, on World Mental Health Day, and all days, Mind and the EFL are On Your Side."