Recent figures show that more players are seeking support for mental health from the PFA
278 more current and former football players than in 2018 have or are accessing therapy.
The President of the Football Association, Prince William has spoken out, criticising football clubs for their attitude towards the mental health of their players.
“Once you would never show any weakness, but they now realise it’s not weak to talk about things.” Michael Bennett, Director of Player Welfare.
Footballers have to deal with a lot, injuries, transitions in and out of the game, transfers, going on loan, isolation, rejection, financial worries, addiction, and so on. It isn’t a wonder their mental health takes a bashing and they need support. For far too long now players have fallen under the radar until they hit the tabloids all the while, suffering in silence.
Several high-profile players have spoken candidly about their battles with mental health, addiction and their path to recovery. They hope that by speaking out that others in their position feel able to seek professional support and remove the stigma once and for all.
Most people think young football players earn £5000 a week, therefore it doesn’t matter. The truth is it’s more like £500 in leagues one and two.
Despite more awareness among clubs regarding mental health, other issues such as gambling are causing grave new concerns.
“It used to be betting shops and card schools but now it’s virtual casinos and gambling on your phone.” Michael Bennett
Gambling opportunities are everywhere, and you would be hard fast not to see an opportunity in every direction in which you turn. Sometimes you don’t even have to move an inch and yet you’ve seen 5 adverts in the space of 30 minutes just by watching television. Clicked on social media? Another goodness knows how many in a matter of seconds. How many gambling establishments-shops, casinos, corner shops offering the lottery-or advertisements for bingo did you see on your daily commute? It seems we cannot escape them.
Granted they cannot gamble in the traditional way of purchasing scratch cards, entering casinos and betting shops but they can play online. You only have to tick a box to say that you are 18 and you have instant access. The problem with online gambling is that it doesn’t feel or look like real money, so when you lose, you don’t feel like have lost anything in the real world.
December 2018, Brittan’s biggest gambling companies confirmed plans to ban television betting adverts during pre-watershed live sports.
Jeff Whitley, former Manchester City, and Northern Ireland Player and member of the welfare team at the PFA, says gambling provides a new challenge for the sport. Having himself struggled with drink and drug addiction: :
“With gambling, you don’t have to go to the bookies; it’s a very secretive addiction. People just need their mobile phones. It’s different from alcohol or drugs, which you can see or smell when players come into the club. With gambling, people can put a mask on. It can be months before anyone would know they’re really struggling.”