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Men's Mental Health: Is it Ignored in Professional Football?

An overlook into how mental health is affecting professional footballers and where to seek help

Mental health is one of the biggest problems which people suffer from in today's society - especially for men. But what exactly does it mean for someone to have mental health?

"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices".

Did you know that three times as many men as women die by suicide according to the mental health foundation?

Men are expected to be the breadwinners and be the strong, dominant and in control gender of our society. These traits are not a bad thing to own, but they can make it harder for men to reach out for help and open up.

Every year, 1 person in 10 will experience depression or anxiety and in the world of professional football, players are suffering from abuse due to high expectations and pressure when playing football. The intense environment can lead to a player's poor mental health and the number of current and former players coming forward to seek support for their mental health is continuously growing.

Below is an outline of a few situations that can affect your mental health as a footballer, and key information on what support is out there.

Contracts and stress

Football players have the option to move to different clubs across various leagues unlimited times throughout their sporting career. But the process of a contract renewal can become very stressful. Shorter contracts are more common in the lower division leagues, and the uncertainty with annual negotiations can put a player through an incredible amount of pressure.

You might experience extreme stress when:

  • your contract is not being renewed

  • you have to move or leave your family to a new country or city

  • younger players battling out a place in the first-team squad

  • big responsibility but can't talk to anyone

  • games you have underperformed in and feel your place in the squad is it risk

Performance and risk

The pressure of maintaining personal performance can be hard, and worrying about how you played can affect your mood for days. Sometimes this can even impact your next game, which can make you feel worse.

Every football club around the world have a fan base which could be as little as a thousand and as big as millions. This can have a huge impact on players as they have big expectations from such a large fanbase. The consequences of underperforming can be huge, and sometimes the fear of having a bad game can even cause one to happen.

You may feel additional pressure when:

  • your club is on a winning streak and you don't want your performance to let the team down

  • your club is currently losing and there is pressure on you to turn things around on the pitch

  • you are worried about what the press/media and fans will say and think about you

Change and anxiety

Football is known for being a fast-paced sport and being able to adapt and change is part of the game. This could be adapting to new teammates, managers, country and club. This can be challenging and cause serious anxiety for players.

When a new manager arrives or you move clubs, it’s common to worry about your place in the team, how you fit into their management/ tactics style and whether you or your teammates might fall out of favour.

This build-up of pressure can cause:

  • feeling isolated if you are new to the country without family

  • loss of appetite, insomnia and ability to concentrate or enjoy life

  • a lack of energy

  • poor performance on the pitch

  • phobias, panic attacks and anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Help and support

There is so much help and support out there if you or know someone in need to help battle mental health. If you recognise any of the symptoms mentioned above, get in touch with some of the supporting services below that help aid men's mental health.

Remember, you are never alone. Support is here for you, for football and for life. Let's beat this together!


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