PFA survey | Members experience lockdown anxiety

Michael Bennett

As part of the response to the national lockdown the PFA surveyed members to help identify the type of support we can offer during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The survey was sent via email and WhatsApp to players and questions focused on wellbeing and included areas such as feelings of depression, self-harm and concerns over gambling and alcohol. 

262 members responded with 177 out of the survey group requiring support around well-being, education and career and employment/contractual services.

Almost a quarter of current and former professionals surveyed during the coronavirus pandemic say they are depressed or have considered self-harm.

It found that 57 of those individuals (22 per cent) felt depressed or had considered harming themselves. Among current players, that figure was six per cent.

The data showed that 182 of the 262 (69 per cent) were worried about their future football career or livelihood, and 72 per cent were regularly aware of feelings of nervousness or anxiety.

The survey also found that 24 of the group – equating to nine per cent – were experiencing difficulties with damaging addictive habits.

Wellbeing Survey Results

PFA’s Director of Wellbeing, Michael Bennett spoke to the PA news agency: “For the current players it’s been the fact of having no structure.

“They don’t know if they’re going to go back to football, they don’t know if the football season will start again, they’re not sure what’s going on. There are financial situations with clubs furloughing players, there is deferral of wages.

“We have got a number of players who are living from pay cheque to pay cheque and this is having a real impact on them emotionally.

“Also health issues – if we do go back to the season, can it work? Will it work? What about my family? All those sort of ‘what if?’ questions kept coming up.

“From the former players it was questions about employment. A lot of them are self-employed, coaches, taxi drivers and stuff like that. They were having emotional issues because of the financial impact that they couldn’t work.

“Off the back of that you get the stress, the anxiety and the depression that come from that.”

The results are important to ensure that the PFA can assess and adapt the support provisions during these unique times.

Across the board The PFA charity has seen an increase in an uptake of services – this reflected in paying out 100 per cent more in benevolent funds in April compared to March and also an increase of 60% in terms of education support provided during the same period.

From the survey, thirty-two of the 177 requested the opportunity to speak directly with a counsellor or therapist.

Wellbeing Support

It is important that all former and current players, are aware there is help available during these unprecedented times. Your health and wellbeing remain our utmost priority. To access private and confidential support and services:

The PFA have also set up a dedicated email for any enquires in relation to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic: c19support@thepfa.com