In February this year, over 70 Palace and Fulham fans embarked on a walk together to raise awareness of mental health and male suicide.
Following the success of this walk from Craven Cottage to Selhurst Park, fans of Crystal Palace and Arsenal have now linked up for a further event which will take place on the 21st April for the Palace away game at the Emirates.
This will be another mental health and male suicide awareness walk from Selhurst Park up to the Emirates Stadium in North London. The fans will cover a distance of around 12 miles which will take about 4 to 4.5 hours (including stops).
The walk is being undertaken as a direct result of personal experiences of many of the participants and, also because of horrendous statistics on mental health and male suicide.
Mental health impacts 1 person in 4 but is much further reaching as it can have an impact to friends and family of sufferers which can then create a tough and challenging environment in the home, at work or in social situations.
Male suicide covers 75% of all suicides in the UK and is the biggest killer of men under 45 years of age. It is estimated that roughly 12 men take their own life every single day which equates to around 84 a week and 4,500 a year which is a staggering and upsetting statistic.
Men in particular are not good at expressing their feelings and opening up but finding the courage to talk and find help is life changing and, in some cases life saving.
Help is out there in many places and in many forms but, men typically bottle things up and take on all the pressure which can lead to terrible circumstances.
From the personal experience of both organisers who have opened up and sought help in the past, the belief is that talking is the most powerful tool available, it is the starting point to recovery and can in turn save lives.
The walks were set-up to raise awareness of both mental health and male suicide but also because it is believed that this initiative can make a real difference in encouraging people to find the courage to talk and find help.
The walk is the centre-piece to bring people together, it is aimed at demonstrating how powerful talking is and as such, is organised as a very social “walk and talk” event. The true vehicle to publicise the message is the media or social media of the event where the message can be spread easily and reach to many.
Undertaking the event on a match-day with opposing fans walking together sends out a very powerful message in a world where football fans can be stereo-typed in negative ways.
Football itself is huge and powerful, it reaches every corner of the world and therefore billions of people. Many of these people will suffer with mental health issues, may have contemplated suicide themselves or will know somebody that has made the decision to take their own life.
A lot of people interested in football and fans that attend games generally are men under 45. This profile alone, based on the statistics makes football a fantastic conduit to reach potentially vulnerable people and football fans therefore make the perfect target audience.
In the modern day and game, football is also followed by people of all ages, across both sexes and therefore getting the message out to encourage people to talk and seek help through football has huge potential.
The event itself is not about raising money and is all about raising awareness. It is aimed at sending out a message to encourage people to open up, to talk and to understand that they are not alone.
If you need help, or want to talk to someone, contact CALM on (Nationwide) 0800 58 58 58, (London) 0808 802 58 58, or visit their website now.