The Role of Mental Health in Football

Article written by guest writer: Xhulio Zeneli

The football world is known to people around the world as an industry, a game of enjoyment, a game where a lot of money can circulate, and where a lot of players and teams battle with each other to win and become the best. One aspect which the fans and footballing community at large neglect to take into consideration when thinking about football is the mental health of players and coaches, and how mental health affects those involved in the beautiful game..

The mental health or more specifically, stress and depression, affects a lot of players, coaches and various members of the game. In years past, there haven’t been a lot of discussions regarding mental health. However, in the last few years, the mental health of those involved in the game has become a greater topic of discussion. Players and staff alike are beginning to speak up about the mental health problems they’ve faced in varying levels of play from academy to professional. Regarding the academy level, it is worth mentioning that a lot of young football players leave their dream to become professional football players due to the pressure forced upon them by trusted others, such as parents and coaches. There are also professional football players that have mental health problems due to the pressures of fans, social media and traditional media forums. Players may feel alone, and like the people in their lives are only with them for their fame and wealth. Many professional footballers have spoken up about their history of mental health issues playing the sport, such as Gonzalo Higuain, Ryan Giggs, Karen Carney, Tony Adams, Michael Carrick, and more recently – Danny Rose.

Danny Rose played for several years in one of England’s biggest clubs – Tottenham Hotspur. At the height of his career, he was also a very important player for the England National Team. In 2018 before the World Cup, he gave an important interview where he declared that he suffered in that year from depression. He believed that the depression was triggered by the treatment of a knee injury coupled with family tragedy. His mental health deteriorated as he contended with the triple trauma of his uncle killing himself, his mum Angela being racially abused and an assailant shooting at his brother inside the family home. However, Rose noted that the national team was his salvation, even when times were tough in his personal life. His club and national side referred him to the right people and he was able to overcome his depression. This demonstrates that when footballers have mental health concerns, the clubs and national sides in which they play for can do more to help guide them through those tough times and help them come out on the other side.

For this problem, the Football Association have launched a program to help people who are dealing with mental health concerns. It is a good thing that the awareness regarding this problem is becoming greater, and that more people are realizing that this is a huge problem that needs more attention. There are a lot of more people who are dealing with mental health problems, but they don’t speak about it because they are afraid about the reactions of the others. The truth is that having a mental health concern is not anything to be ashamed of speaking about, because this is something that everyone deals with. Those struggling with their mental health or those interested in learning more about mental health in football should consult resources like: Mental Health Football UK – Physical Activity Health Alliance, Mental Health resources available at the FA Website nd consider talking to a mental health specialist, counselor or sport psychologist. Thank you for reading.

Lead Author: Xhulio Zeneli
Editor: Rhys Desmond

So there it is! Thanks to Xhulio for this great article on mental health. We hope to see more of Xhulio and his thoughts in future months. Be sure to share your thoughts on Twitter @mastermindsite or in the comments below. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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