BBC’s program “Football’s Suicide Secret” which came out last year threw into the open what many people were unaware of: That footballers and managers regularly suffer from bouts of depression throughout their careers.
The staggering testimony from presenter and ex-football player, Clarke Carlisle, as well as many others, shed some light on individuals that have battled against mental illness.
For all the interest that was sparked at the time, and the intent from many people to do something about helping players suffering from this little-spoken of difficulty in sport, not much has in fact been done to make players suffering in silence feel better about talking about what they are experiencing.
This is exemplified by the recent revelation that ex-Chelsea and Fulham coach Ray Wilkins had been battling clinical depression for many years.
Wilkins, who was a professional player in his time, admitted that he had been taking Valium, an anti-depressant drug, as early as 1996 and that he had received treatment for many years from The Priory, an establishment which helps treat illnesses such as depression and addictions.
What is worrying about these revelations is that although it is possible to find help for these players, it remains difficult to speak out and as any practitioner will testify, the first step towards resolving the problem is to talk about it.
Ray Wilkins’ admission is a stepping stone in the right direction, but more is needed to be done, as shown by the loss of Gary Speed who committed suicide on the 27th November 2011, and who sets an example of what should be avoided in the future.
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