When you read the title of this immediately you think of a match across the sporting spectrum. And although there is a link to this, it goes a lot deeper than that.
Mental health amongst men. Here we are in 2018 and still very much a taboo subject in the macho world of sport. But, we are hearing about it more and more and so we should, it’s something that is here, it’s real and it doesn’t go away. It can be managed, it can be beaten, but it must be accepted, not just by you or me or the person next door, everyone can be affected by this in some shape or another.
Just recently, footballers are beginning to speak out about the effects of depression on themselves, those close to them and how it effects everything around them. Tottenham’s Danny Rose opened up to his battle with depression just before the World Cup began in the summer. To you and me, we see a talented player in a top 4 club and just about to represent his country on the biggest footballing stage he could play, but inside Rose was struggling, suffering and kept his battle well away from team mates, even from his parents, not wanting to maybe show this as a sign of weakness. I mean after all, he’s a high profile star in his profession, idolised by many, why should he be suffering?
He suffered because he’s human, just like you and me. For a footballer, it is difficult for us to imagine how or why, they have a top lifestyle, money for anything they want and adored by fans all over the world. But, mental health issues affect you, me, the neighbour, the friend, it has no limits, man or women, boy or girl why should it be seen as something that can’t be talked about?
It attacks players all over the game, reading Liam Hughes’ interview last season, a player who had been involved in scoring a Wembley winner for Cambridge, a Football League player now plying his trade for Darlington after a short spell at Billericay Town. An injury, unable to play, anxiety kicks in, the thoughts in the head become darker and it then becomes hard to get off the slippery slope. Luckily, he’s here to tell his tale and encourage others to seek help, go search out his article on the internet and put yourself in his shoes, you can see why it affects them, but it could easily be you if you change football for something in your life that knocked you for six.
Last week Brighton winger Anthony Knockaert revealed depression knocked him and his game sideways, personal issues taking their toll on his mental state but seeking help through his club has now made him feel understood having received counselling. Once again, he felt it was something that had be kept quiet and basically brushed under the carpet.
Just today, Welsh winger David Cotterill has revealed his battle also with depression which almost led him to suicide, a level which is on the rise as those struggling find they can’t reveal what’s really going on inside them for fear of ridicule or humiliation and believe that it is the only way out for them instead of being encouraged to talk about feelings and anxiety which might prevent that happening, although it’s not a given.
If you look through history you will see these players are not the first to reveal mental health issues, but what has been done since? All the money floating around football and how many clubs employ counsellors to speak to their players and check their mental well-being? Academy players released after thinking for years they are the next pro to make a name for themselves, but consigned to life outside the bubble and a mind all over the place not knowing where the next destination is.
This is something that isn’t going to go away, I would expect to see more and more players coming forward to talk about the mental health issues they have experienced and maybe then clubs might take notice and have a duty to their players to protect them as best they can. After all, they’re human like you and me. But just remember, anyone can put on a brave face in front of others, the first half, but once on their own and away from distractions, it’s the second half, there can only be one winner, to talk with no stigma attached. Remember that the next time you think someone is struggling, don’t walk away, you might be their only saviour………………………….