Time to Talk: Gentoo and SAFC unite to tackle mental health

We’re delighted to have teamed up with Sunderland AFC as the club’s community partner, to jointly tackle the stigma around mental health as part of our support for Time to Talk Day.

Sunderland AFC manager Phil Parkinson, who was today announced as the EFL League One Manager of the Month for January, held a special Mental Health Team Talk with colleagues from our repairs and maintenance team.

Phil and the team came together on Thursday afternoon, as football and business united to help kick off the biggest ever conversation around mental health. Across the day, we encouraged colleagues to stop and talk about mental health awareness over a cuppa and a cake for just five minutes out of their day.

Following the launch of ‘Heads Up’ – a partnership between the FA and Heads Together – the Black Cats boss gave an insight into mental health within football, as part of Gentoo’s support for the mental health campaign ‘Time to Talk Day’, at the Stadium of Light.

Spearheaded by HRH the Duke of Cambridge, and working closely with charity partners Mind, CALM and Sporting Chance, the season-long campaign aims to harness the influence and popularity of football to normalise the conversation around mental health.

SAFC will continue to support ‘Heads Up’ this weekend when they take on Ipswich Town, as every team from across the Premier League, EFL, National League, Barclays FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship and FA Women’s National League dedicate their matches to the campaign.

Running across a two-week period, the ‘Heads Up Weekends’ will highlight the power of talking as a way to support one another and dispel stigma.

Gentoo’s Chief Executive Officer, Nigel Wilson, added:

“It was great for colleagues and I to have the opportunity to hear Phil’s insight on mental health in football and how this relates all walks of life. Raising awareness of mental health is about ensuring people are supported in the right way and made to feel comfortable about speaking out. Too many people suffer in silence and the impact of this on individuals and their families can be dramatic. It’s great to work with the club as a community partner to jointly tackle a really important issue that affects many local people.”

After teaming up with Gentoo, SAFC Manager, Phil Parkinson said:

“Mental health is very topical and it’s important that it is. As they say, ‘it’s good to talk’. Don’t be embarrassed and get things out in the open because a lot of people will be living through the same feelings that you are having. I think we have made great strides in the country towards people feeling like they can open up, but the more awareness we can get across, the more people we can help.”

To find out more information about Time to Talk campaign, visit

Find out more and get tips from Heads Up’s charity partners, including Mind, CALM, Sporting Chance and Heads Together, by visiting

Those wanting immediate support can also text ‘HeadsUp’ to 85258 to connect with a trained crisis volunteer – a service run by ‘Shout’ and powered by Crisis Text Line, which is available 24/7 and free to text from most mobile networks.

For further advice and support, please visit