Mental health has always been a tricky subject for men, with pride and image coming into concern for many. The footballing world is trying to talk to those affected by these pressing issues through charity work and promoting unity.
By Jay Partington
Suicide is the biggest killer in men aged under 35, with three out of four suicides being carried out by males. Blokes are also three times more likely to turn to alcohol compared to women, but less likely to ask for psychological help.
The FA have taken the opportunity to break the taboo and get people talking about their mental health. The FA supports a charity called “Time To Change” which aims to combat discrimination around mental health, as well as making those affected feel comfortable, even at the top level of sport.
Football is the most popular sport played in the UK, with the sport carrying a slight male dominance in viewership and participation. Football manages to capture the attention of men every weekend and is the social hub of thousands of Sunday mornings through grassroots football. It means charities can target many men via the sport.
Footballers and depression
Gary Speed, the former Wales and Sheffield United manager, took his life in November 2011 after facing a long battle with depression. He was a huge loss to the football world and is a groundbreaking case in the efforts to get men to talk about their mental health issues.
Since then many footballers have come out to the media. Anthony Knockaert, Brighton’s star player, admitted to The Independent he was “struggling with depression”. Knockaert then thanked fans for the abundance of support he received and said the key idea was “to help” others going through the same situation.
"The club was there for me and we kept it a secret. Even some close people in my family did not know about it until recently."
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) September 21, 2018
There has always been a stigma when discussing men’s mental health. The conventional response is being told to “man up”! The stereotypical idea of a man in today’s world is somebody who shouldn’t get upset or show weakness through crying. So many guys believe there is nowhere to turn or they are being ridiculous.
Mind Kicks talks to Leeds Hacks
Mind Kicks was established in 2017 by Tim Stoodley, who is currently fighting against poor mental health. He founded the charity to reach out to men and show them they are not alone. The main aim of the charity is to “use the power and the passion of the beautiful game to help men conquer the ugly side of their minds.”
Leeds Hacks spoke to Tim Stoodley and asked how paramount the EFL have been in launching the charity. Tim said: “They do a lot of good work” and that “there’s still time” to improve the situation for many men who are suffering.
Tim’s only criticism is that “a lot more needs to be done” for the fans and more attention should be put into everyday people rather than the players and the clubs themselves. However, Tim assured us Mind Kicks will keep “plugging away” and “try to get as many fans to have that conversation” as possible.
A video outlines what Mind Kicks does and profiles Tim Stoodley:
A great number of well-known and professional football clubs have got involved with Mind Kicks and pledged their full support, including: Brentford, Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday.
Talking to a helpline, charity or even a friend is the first step in the direction to recovery. Whilst men’s feelings are not always clear and easy to talk about, it has become more socially acceptable to express one’s feelings and tell the world they are not doing well.
If you feel you need to talk to someone about your mental health give the Mind Kicks website a visit at: https://www.mindkicks.co.uk/