Duke of Cambridge warns of mental health 'repercussions' for nation after Covid-19

The Duke of Cambridge warned that society faces mental health "repercussions" from Covid-19, as the FA Cup Final was renamed after his campaign supporting football fans.

William believes the coronavirus outbreak, which has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and left many people isolated by the lockdown, will cause psychological problems in the future.

His comments were followed by the Football Association’s (FA) announcement that this year’s final would be renamed from the Emirates to the Heads Up FA Cup Final.

It is being renamed after the duke’s Heads Up initiative which aims to raise awareness of mental health and encourage football supporters to speak about their problems or support a fellow fan.

In a video call to Arsenal football club head coach Mikel Arteta and some of his staff and players on Tuesday, William said: "I’m really pleased that you guys are all coming back to football soon."

William chats to Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta (top left) and players and coaching staff about mental health Credit: Kensington Palace/PA

William said: "And, as you can see behind me, I’ve got the FA Cup, it’s going to be named the Heads Up FA Cup – which is great news. So we’re going to really use the final as a moment to promote good, positive mental health for everyone."

The duke, who is president of the FA and an avid Aston Villa fan, added: "It’s quite timely bearing in mind what we’ve all been through with this pandemic."

"I think there’s going to be, sadly, a lot of repercussions from this in society, not just in football, in terms of people’s mental health. Hopefully the FA Cup can be a bit of a pivot that people can rally around."

The group also discussed how Arsenal is supporting coaching staff and players, including those at the academy level, as well as the wider football community.

Arteta, who contracted Covid-19, said of players’ mental health during coronavirus: "You have to create a safe environment for them to be able to talk to you directly without feeling judged, or (worrying) whether that’s going to have consequences for them, whether they’re going to play or not, or my feelings towards them."

The Duke of Cambridge reacts as his team wins a table football match at the launch of The Heads Up Weekends in London Credit: Frank Augstein/PA

Arteta said: "This is what I’ve been trying to do over the last 12 weeks, by trying to talk individually so they can raise those feelings, their issues, and we can build the club culture that I want, which is based on respect."

On supporting team-mates with their mental health, Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang said: "I think the most important thing is to be next to them, to try to speak a lot with them, to give them all the space they need for talking, because I think the best thing is to talk, and to discuss problems."

Premier League football is due to return later this month after being suspended because of Covid-19, and the FA Cup Final is provisionally scheduled to take place on August 1.

Heads Up is a partnership between William’s ongoing mental health campaign Heads Together and the FA and is a season-long initiative that was launched at the FA Community Shield last year.

Godric Smith, chairman of the Heads Up campaign, said: "Given the many different impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that we talk about our mental health and help support one another, and the Heads Up FA Cup Final will hopefully generate many more of those conversations amongst fans and the football community."

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know