Football News

Footballers at the forefront of mental health awareness campaigns

By Squawka News

Published: 18:15, 22 May 2020 | Updated: 12:38, 14 January 2021

Mental Health awareness is growing in the football world, where discussions now regularly take place publicly as opposed to behind closed doors or, worse still, not at all.

The beautiful game has some ugly traits. Old stereotypes and outdated perceptions of masculinity linger, making the prospect of broaching certain topics difficult.

Whether it be the mocking of Luke Chadwick’s appearance after he broke onto the scene at Manchester United or the internal turmoil a professional can face after suffering a long-term injury – football can undoubtedly have a negative affect on an individual’s mental health.

But the winds of change are gathering momentum and – at a time when life has become more difficult for everyone – plenty of footballers have been at the forefront of ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’.

Squawka is shining a light on just a fraction of some of the work players have undertaken to promote messages of wellbeing.

Hector Bellerin

The Arsenal defender has embraced an opportunity to use his profile to address important issues outside of football, with a refreshing sense of honesty.

Marvin Sordell

The former England-21 international and Team GB squad member hung up his boots in 2019 at just 28 years of age and is now an advocate of people, especially sportsmen, talking about their mental health.

Chris Mepham

The defender is heading up Bournemouth‘s campaign with Dorset HealthCare, which was created to offer physical and mental health support to their social media followers.

Mepham took an elongated route to the football elite, having recently revealed that he found himself in “a dark place” as he came to terms with a family illness after being released by Chelsea as a teenager. He almost turned his back on football completely in favour of a career in gardening.

Troy Deeney

The Watford skipper is something of a Marmite figure on the pitch, with his bullish playing style often derided as prehistoric in the pristine landscape of the Premier League.

Off the pitch, Deeney has become a prominent voice on mental health issues and in 2018 opened up on the benefits of seeing a psychologist.

David Martin

The goalkeeper has proven to be a late bloomer, with his Premier League debut coming for West Ham earlier this season at the ripe old age of 33.

Martin has spent the majority of his career in the lower leagues and, as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, has described how learning to open up to those closest to him has helped him deal with anxiety: “Just talking, if you can be brave enough to do it that first time, it will hold you in good stead for the rest of your life.”