Carling and CALM launch campaign to tackle mental health

Carling and the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) charity have extended their “More Than a Game” campaign, which champions the power football has in bringing communities together and supporting people through everyday struggles with their mental wellbeing, by introducing the Caring United Playbook, devised by CALM, to support teams and players, alongside a series of films, featuring grassroots clubs and former England footballers Marvin Sordell and Darren Bent.

The Playbook is an informal but informative social-first guide with accessible tips and tactics that football teams can adopt and embed to support mental health amongst their players and the wider football community. It is designed to be a go-to resource for grassroots football clubs and their communities, and will provide rich content, insights and information for them to use for their personal, team and public benefit.

The Playbook comes on the back of research by YouGov for CALM that reveals over a third of men (37%) don’t feel equipped to talk about their mental health with family or friends and two in five men (40%) wouldn’t speak to family or friends about their mental health if they were struggling.

While last year’s campaign focused on telling the stories of struggles faced by many people within grassroots football clubs and how their clubs and teams helped their mental wellbeing, this year, Carling and CALM seek to make a bigger impact by providing accessible support for grassroots clubs and recognising the great support network they can provide for its players and members of the club. This is done through a shareable, content-led approach that opens up tricky conversations around mental health, encourages everyone to look out for each other, and helps more men to connect with their mates and their communities through their shared passion for football.

Commenting on the campaign, Marvin said: “I know what it’s like to live with mental health issues and I’m really happy to be tackling this at a grassroots level not just for football but also for communities up and down the country. It’s really important to me that we understand that sport is more than just a game, it’s an opportunity to support each other and improve peoples’ wellbeing, especially after the last few years, which have been really tough for everyone. I started my career at Fulham and while football will always be an important part of my life, I’m committed to changing the way the game is played and to helping people to take better care of themselves and work to create better wellbeing at their clubs and in their communities.”
Following the pandemic, many people are still feeling isolated and disconnected from their social networks. Loneliness, in particular, is an invisible epidemic for many men in the UK, as they are less likely to open up and talk to people about how they are feeling. According to the Office for National Statistics, every week 125 people in the UK take their own lives and 75% of these suicides are male, so it’s critical that mental wellbeing is made more of a priority.

Simon Gunning, CEO, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), said: “Through our partnership with Carling, we’re encouraging people to open up in a safe environment, highlight the positive role local grassroots football clubs play in their communities and raise awareness of the services CALM provides. Football has always been a massive part of CALM and its approach to reaching men by normalising conversations and breaking down the stigma around mental health and suicide. More Than a Game does an incredible job of showing how inspirational normal people in their community can be and the way they can positively affect people’s lives. We know grassroots football is so important in helping people get together, do what they love and feel better for it. And seeing these stories really makes it clear that football really is more than a game.”

Lee Willett, Carling Brand Director, said: “We’re excited to be extending our More Than a Game campaign with CALM, as we truly believe that football has the power to bring people together. Carling has been synonymous with football for decades, and we know that last year’s activities, which saw us providing Mental Health First Aid Training to previous Caring United clubs, have already had a positive impact.

“However, we also wanted to take an approach that could truly reach and engage with communities beyond the club environment, and we believe that the introduction of the Caring United Playbook, which provides hint and tips to help people have open conversations around their mental wellbeing is the best way to do this and will allow us to impact people, who we have not managed to reach before in a positive and powerful way.”

The CARING UNITED social film series can be viewed here.

To find out more about CALM and the support it provides please visit

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