Depression in Football – Not enough is being done by the FA

Aaron Lennon, Gary Speed, Clark Carlisle and Chris Kirkland, these are some of the famous names in the English game that has gone through the unfortunate and traumatic experience of anxiety and depression.

Because of these unfortunate stories that have been revealed by the media, you would think that precautions would be put in place to ensure that those with mental health issues are well supported and looked after by both club and country.   There is a mental health programme that’s been put in place by the FA, but still, not enough footballers are coming forward about the issues that they have encountered, so why is that?

The most commendable story this week came from Spurs full-back Danny Rose who revealed his personal battle with depression during the media day which took place on the Futsal Court of St. George’s Park, as he believed it was triggered from his knee injury and unexpected family tragedy.

Rose must be applauded for his honesty, bravery, and courage to make an admission to his struggles as many would bottle this up instead of seeking any form of help, as he told reporters during media day that he grew increasingly miserable and isolated at White Hart Lane.

Rose said, “It’s no secret that I’ve been through a testing time at Tottenham this season.  It led me to see a psychologist and I was diagnosed with depression, which nobody knows about.  I had to get away from Tottenham.  I’m lucky that England gave me that opportunity to get away, refresh my mind and I’ll always be grateful to them.  I was on medication for a few months – nobody knows about that apart from my agent – but I’m off the medication now, I’m good again and looking forward to how far we can go in Russia”.

Rose then went on to talk about the off the field incidents and himself and his family were involved in, “Nobody knows this either, but my uncle [his father’s brother] killed himself in the middle of my rehab, and that triggered the depression as well.

“Off the field there have been other incidents, back home in August my mum was racially abused in Doncaster.  She was very angry and upset about it, and then someone came to the house and nearly shot my brother in the face – a gun was fired at my house.  England has been my salvation and I can’t thank the manager [Gareth Southgate] and the medical staff enough.  It was hard and being referred to a doctor and psychologist by the Spurs club doctor helped me massively to cope.  I haven’t told my mum or my dad, and they are probably going to be angry reading this, but I’ve kept it to myself until now. “

This was only half of what the Spurs full-back said during his 12-minute interview and he has been highly praised by mental health groups across the UK.  However, what really irritates me about this whole situation is that there has been no statement whatsoever from the FA and Rose’s admission.  Quite frankly, this is not good enough and considering this is an organisation that prides itself from the mental health programme that they’ve set up over recent years and did not even consider speaking out about the matter.

Coming from a person who has also suffered from mental health issues over the years, I can totally relate to where Danny Rose is coming from but without the severity.  I am appalled and disappointed that the FA, Martin Glenn and the rest of the executives have decided to keep quiet on the matter and have essentially swept it under the carpet.

When is the FA going to get a grip before another incident such as Gary Speed’s reoccurs? In life, we only learn from the mistakes we make and it takes disasters for us to learn our lessons as human beings, the FA’s neglect on mental health cannot be excused anymore and the topic needs to be addressed before it’s too late.