Whilst many of us can’t get enough of the beautiful game, the players are human just like the rest of us. The idea that the players earning millions actually means they are super human, is absolute piffle. They may have access to more physio and rehab, but a broken leg is a broken leg regardless of whether you are earning £20k a year or £20k a week. Then of course you have the fact that a player has a limited career time and that can end in an instant with a badly timed tackle or leg break that can have a bigger impact on the health. They then will find themselves having to refocus their future. For some they might be lucky to be still be involved in football, but for many others their future will lie much further away from the beautiful game and whilst this may not seem much to many it will go on to affect more than physical health
Whilst physical health in a footballer is vital, so is a players mental health . Again the old adage of a footballer earning thousands a week doesn’t mean they are exempt from being affected by the various mental health issues. We have seen in some cases that the lack of help and guidance in regards to mental health can be downfall to a player and the fact that men don’t like to talk about it.
Depression doesn’t can affect a player at anytime and tragically before a career has begun. Back in 2013 a 16 year took his own life having been released from a footballing academy. A young teenagers dreams having gone from big hope to no future in what he loved doing best. Then of course there are a number of players who have suffered depression and who have spoken in public about it. The likes Danny Rose Aaron Lennon and Clarke Carlisle . Carlisle who had attempted to take his own life, each with their own different story how mental health
More recently Michael Keane in an interview with the BBC told how he had found himself breaking down in front of his family following hitting a low point which injuries and form. Worrying about form might seem trivial but the on the field the pressure of performing and doing well is a big one. It’s ok when you are performing well, everyone will be praising you and building you up. Of course when form is lost, there will be many who not only suffer self doubt but in what is a global sport and reported by the global press. When things don’t go well, the press can come down on a player and lead to abuse in regards to the player that can lead to a downfall in that players mental health.
There has been sadly a long list of footballers who have sadly and tragically taken their lives including the high profile names of Gary Speed and Justin Fashanu. Whilst we think of mental health concerns and suicide amongst footballers as a new situation a thing, sadly it dates back as far as 1913, that in turn shows how the long the mental health situation has been around.
It is not just male football players affected by mental health of course. An article researched and written by Astrid Junge and Birgitta Prinz had seen them ask women football players in 10 Bundesliga clubs and 7 lower league teams to complete a questionnaire. In the result of asking 290 players, the results came back as seeing 48 players indicating the mild to moderate on the CES-D score (Centre of Epidemiological Studies Depressions Scale). There were 41 participants who had severe symptoms and in the GAD-7 (Generalised Anxiety Disorder-7) 24 players had indicated a moderate generalised anxiety disorder.
Back in December the women’s super league, championship and national leagues joined the Heads Up mental health campaign. Emma Mitchell, Karen Carney and Gilly Flaherty have all opened up about their mental health discussing their story of how they have lived through it with discussions of self harming (Carney) and Gilly Flaherty discussing the attempt to take her own life. Charlton’s Katie Startup wore the number 40 on her jersey to highlight the fact that according to World Health Organisation statistics that one person dies from suicide every 40 seconds the equivalent of 135 people in one game
In 2016 18 year old Zoe Tynan tragically took her own life.