Football Tackles Stigma

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The Football Association (F.A) is at the forefront of leading sports bodies tackling mental health issues both on and off the pitch. Professional footballers, so long seen as heroes and often afforded almost God like status, are, when it comes to it, mere mortals like the rest of us. They too suffer from stress, insecurities, anxiety and depression. Footballers such as Stan Collymore, Paul Gascoigne, Gary Speed and Clarke Carlisle have all battled mental health problems.

In the space of just a few years with high level players coming forward there is a shift happening. No longer is the stigma such, that sports personalities have to stay silent for the sake of their careers.  However, until such time that we can all be open in every walk of life to talk openly about our mental health difficulties, I am afraid many will choose to suffer in silence because they are afraid it will affect their careers.

It is a really positive thing that across sport itself, mental health issues and stigma are being addressed. This will really help to shape the views of young people, who are themselves the future of sport and ambassadors for change.

The F.A is developing educational forums with workshops aimed at coaches, referees, players and others involved in the game at all levels; while the Professional Footballers Association provides a 24 hour mental health helpline staffed by trained counsellors.

The pressures of playing at a high level, risk of injury and the emotional highs and lows all contribute to emotional stress. A study by the World Players Union (FIFPro), indicated that 38% of professional footballers suffer symptoms of depression and anxiety.

It’s not only football that has taken a lead in tackling stigma and mental health problems. The Sport and Recreation Alliance along with other sports bodies in partnership with MIND, the mental health charity, have developed a mental health charter for sport and recreation.

Rugby has launched its “state of mind” programme to raise awareness of mental health issues. Ambassadors for mental health include Great Britain and England international player Adrian Morley and super league clubs all have indroduced player welfare managers. Other sports such as cricket have mental health ambassador Andrew Flintoff and Monty Panesar championing the cause.

Source: “Sport Fights Stigma” by Pennie Taylor, Benenden members magazine: Be healthy, Spring 2017, Issue 38.

Image Reference: By Andre Kiwitz (originally posted to Flickr as olympics-soccer-11) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Time to welcome in the Spring


This is probably my favourite time of the year. Lengthening days and the promise of things to come. April is a wonderful time of renewal. Sunshine and showers feed the earth, and all around the plant world is coming to life. Humans too can take their cue from nature and begin to take on new projects, looking ahead to the summer.

As you go about your day to day activities take time look at all the buds emerging and tiny leaves beginning to unfurl. Almost minute by minute it would seem that nature is bringing about incredible changes. Now is a really good time for each of us to think about changes. Spring really is a good time to bring about some positive lifestyle tweaks.

Here are a few tips that I will be endeavouring to bring into my life and which you too you might find helpful.

Strive to create a more balanced life. Stop being a slave to work, whether that be in the office or at home. Instead look to relaxation and rejuvination as primary goals to bild into life, not luxury “add ons.”

Get out for more walks. There is nothing better than a daily dose of fresh air to awaken the senses.  Take some time to enjoy a walk in the woods or by a tranquil stream, the peace allows us to re-charge and let go of stress.

Take time to nurture your friendships. Just like plants, our friends need a little TLC if they are to develop into lasting relationships and not wither away. As humans we are a social species and we need companionship and to feel valued and to value others. People who do not have friends often experience loneliness and isolation, a pre-cursor to low mood, sadness and depression.

Everyday tell at least one person something you like and appreciate about them. As I mentioned, above we all need to feel valued and appreciated. The opposite is to feel “taken for granted,” a not very nice feeling.

Try to reduce you “to do” list and cut yourself some slack. Space things out and slow. As the old saying goes, “take time to smell the flowers.”

Here’s one of my “notes to self,” Aim to get a little healthier and Cut out the “CRAP” – Reduce your consumption of Caffeine, Refined sugars, Alcohol and Processed food.

Behave towards yourself as you would a friend you care about. Listen to your inner comassionate voice and not your inner critic.

Choose being kind over being right. Stop bying into all that is negative in the world and all the badness. Make it your mission to look around at all that is good and right in the world. Look for the simple acts of human kindness and see if you can contribute in your own little way towards the greater good.

Finally, take time for fun and be fun, learn to laugh at yourself and see the funny side of things. Try to take life less seriously, have a laugh and smile more, after all, its proven to make you happier.

Until next time, take care.