Content warning: This article contains themes of suicide and mental health
We’re continuing our monthly blog series of campaigns that we loved. For October, we’re spotlighting Norwich City Football Club’s deeply moving campaign for World Mental Health Day (10th October).
The video, shared on the football club’s X (formerly known as Twitter) channel, highlighted the hidden signs of mental health struggles. The video gained over 55 million views in the span of 48 hours and helped start conversations online about the importance of checking in with your loved ones. On X, the Championship club wrote: “At times, it can be obvious when someone is struggling to cope, but sometimes the signs are harder to spot”.
The video follows two Norwich City Football Club fans in the stands watching a football game with two very different attitudes and behaviours. The man on the left remains quiet and indifferent throughout the game, while his cheerful and buoyant friend on the right continues to react to the match by umping out of his seat with sheer excitement. The man on the right occasionally asks his friend on the left if he’s okay but barely gives a response. Spoilers ahead: after a short montage sequence of similar interactions from these two fans and friends, it is implied that seemingly cheerful friend has passed, as we see his friend enter alone and drape his scarf over the, now, empty chair. The video ends with the message “Check in on those around you”.
According to the UK government, and reported by the BBC, suicide is the leading cause of death in men under the age of 50, with males between 50-54 found to have the highest suicide rate of 22.5 per 100,000 in the UK in 2021. As stated by Samaritans, the charity organization aimed at providing emotional support and preventing suicide, the overall male suicide rate in 2021 was 15.8 per 100,000.
The response to Norwich City Football Club’s campaign was overwhelmingly positive, with fans across social media thanking the club for its support and awareness. One fan commented, “So proud of our football club and this message”, while others shared their own experiences with mental health struggles and the stories of people they’ve lost to suicide.
Various celebrities have publicly praised the video as being one of the most progressive and influential takes on the reality of mental health. Radio presenter, Roman Kemp called it, “the best bit of Mental Health Awareness I’ve ever seen… watch until the end” and Arsenal women’s Vivianne Miedema took to X to commend and promote the message further: “Take care of each other and yourself and talk to someone if needed”.
Football can often be treated as an outlet or a form of escapism for those struggling with their mental health—it is a cathartic time where fans can direct all attention and passion towards the game and indulge in the intense fandom culture of the football community. The Football Association launched an initiative back in 2019 inspiring men to comfortably discuss mental health in the same way they would with football. Besides attempting to break the stigma surrounding mental health, it promoted football as a tool to cope, providing coaches and managers with guides on supporting players experiencing mental health problems and how to spot these signs.
The Norwich City Football Club also shared a link to their own mental health resources page as well as the Samaritans 24/7 hotline phone number for suicide prevention. On October 7th, the club wore the Samaritans logo as Norwich City FC’s newest shirt sponsor. The shirts were signed and auctioned off on October 23rd with all proceeds planned to be donated to the Samaritans organisation.
The football club’s campaign for World Mental Health Day has clearly opened the door even more widely for conversations about mental health, especially amongst men and footballers. The video reveals a hard truth which is that mental illness doesn’t necessarily ‘look’ a certain way. At times, the one with the biggest smile and the most to say, may be hiding- and masking the most. The best thing we can do for one another is check in and be there for each other.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or any of the issues mentioned in this blog, visit www.samaritans.org/ or call 116 123 (free to call) to seek support.
For more Midas news see here.