In The News02 Jun 2011
PFA tackles sensitive issue of mental health among footballers
It is considered to be one of football’s last taboos, an issue that is not understood and is dismissed far too readily in the machismo-filled dressing room, where weaknesses of any sort tend to be ridiculed. Professional players are not supposed to suffer from panic, anxiety, depression or any sort of mental-health problem. They are regarded as titans among men.
Yet the reality is that footballers display the same vulnerabilities as other young people and under the intense spotlight of the modern game it is natural and inevitable that some of them will feel overwhelmed. The suicide in 2009 of the Hannover and Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke, who had been depressed since the death of his two-year-old daughter, Lara, from a rare heart condition, was an extreme example but it raised the issue of mental health in football and the authorities in England have now acted.
At the beginning of next season players in the four divisions will be issued with The Footballers’ Guidebook, which looks at the stressful situations that professionals face and suggests ways to handle them.
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