Mental health awareness project unveiled for FIFA World Cup in Qatar

A FIFA World Cup project to promote mental health awareness, involving a custom-made public bench for each participating nation at the upcoming tournament in Qatar, has been launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health.

The initiative is part of the two organisations Sport for Health partnership and will see the “friendship benches” built for installation in various locations in capital city Doha including the precincts of the tournament stadiums.

The FIFA-supported project aims to demonstrate the importance of mental health and offer advice on ways to promote mental wellbeing through physical activity and sport.

Several of the benches were released this week to coincide with World Mental Health Day at 974 Stadium in Doha, one of the venues for the World Cup.

One of those was the England bench, which was inaugurated by Britain’s four-time Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah.

He was joined by Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, chief executive of the Qatar Foundation, at the unveiling.

“Meeting Sir Mo and hearing the compelling story of how he left Mogadishu for London as a young boy and the mental health challenges he faced highlighted the importance of sitting down and talking about our mental health,” Al Thani said.

“I’m proud that Qatar Foundation’s global health initiative is among those helping shine a spotlight on mental health in such an innovative and practical way.”

The project is said to align with the common goals of various partner campaigns, including FIFA and WHO’s #REACHOUT programme.

Each bench features illustrations with advice describing effective exercises that visitors can practice for their physical, and in turn, mental health.

The friendship benches project is another vehicle to raise awareness about mental health conditions and to encourage a conversation, which could save a life.

“FIFA is proud to partner with the World Health Organization, and Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health to put football at the service of society, and to leave a lasting legacy in Qatar for residents and visitors,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

The final locations of each of the 32 benches are due to be announced shortly and once installed information will be shared on how people will be able to visit their national benches. –Insidethegames

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