Nigel Clough highlights increase in wellbeing support

Nigel Clough

Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough has told the BBC that players access to wellbeing support via the PFA is ‘as good as it can be.’

Speaking to The Guardian earlier this week Burton Albion forward Marvin Sordell spoke openly about his struggles with depression.

Clough was quick to ensure that Marvin received professional help and contacted the PFA: "The best thing we can do is as soon as we see there is a problem is get the experts involved as quickly as possible, which is what we did with Marvin.

"Once it was identified at our end we talked and the next contact was direct with PFA. Usually within 24 hours something is set up to see somebody."

Sordell is among a number of players who have recently spoken out about suffering from mental health issues.

Last week Notts County player Matt Tootle took to Twitter to speak about his gambling addiction.

And last year former Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland spoke at the PFA’s Injured Conference about suffering from anxiety and depression whilst playing.

403 players have received PFA wellbeing support last year, up from 103 in 2016, while 312 have used their services up to August this year.

"The PFA have an increasing workload in this area with professional footballers," Clough told BBC Radio Derby.

"It will be a burden for the PFA in the next few years but they have the funds and there is that much money in football at the moment that there should be a fair allocation to deal with these sorts of issues."

PFA Head of Player Welfare Michael Bennett, believes it is made easier for players to seek help when they hear that others have gone through similar experiences.

"We are saying to players that you have to marry up the importance of looking after yourself physically, and emotionally and mentally," he told BBC Sport.

"We still have to continue to sow seeds and make our members aware of what support is in place.

"We are trying to move from being reactive to being proactive."

Clough agrees with the view that more players will be encouraged to talk about their issues.

"In the dressing room, I'm sure it existed 20 or 30 years ago, but no-one would have come out and admitted to it and think that is the big difference," he said.

"The more who can talk about it, the better it is.

"As more players come out and talk, more players will feel more comfortable saying 'yep, I feel like that as well'.

The PFA offers members 24/7/365 telephone helpline for players wishing to talk about any issues they have, as well as a nationwide network of counsellors to which players have access.

"We needed to implement some emotional support for players which they could go and access away from their club or family in a private and confidential setting where they could talk through any issue they have got; whether it is gambling, mental health, long-term injury or whatever," Bennett said.

"They can go into a private place and sit down and talk about their emotional wellbeing."

"We want our members to come to us and make us aware of what issues they are going through so we can help them."

Getting support via the PFA…

The PFA provides members with a 24/7 counselling telephone helpline. This 'round-the-clock' support is available to all members past and present.

All services are private and confidential, PFA members (or concerned friends and family) can contact the PFA: