Wellbeing

Mental Health &
Football

PFA Charity 24/7/365 Confidential Counselling Helpline: 07500 000 777

Mental Health Support

Poor mental health doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone at any time. Every year, 1 person in 10 will experience depression or anxiety and the number of current and former players coming forward to seek support for their mental health continues to grow.

High expectations and pressure to perform are part and parcel of playing professional football, and the intense environment can easily lead to poor mental health. Coupled with the likelihood of a short playing career, it’s no surprise that footballers face a unique set of challenges that can be hard for anyone outside the game to properly understand.

Here, we outline how the following situations can affect your mental health, and how we can support you. Remember, the sooner you ask for help, the better the outcome will be, and you’re never alone. We’re always here for you, for football and for life.

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Change and Anxiety

Football is a fast-paced sport, and change is an inevitable part of the game. However, adapting to a new team, manager and club can be a challenge and causes anxiety for many players.

When a new manager arrives or you move clubs, it’s common to worry about your place in the team, how you fit into their management style and whether you or your teammates might fall out of favour. The pressure to deliver results can also ramp up and there are lots of unknowns, which can cause:

  • a lack of energy, leaving you drained and demotivated
  • feelings of isolation if you are new to the country
  • feelings of dread like something bad is going to happen
  • feelings of fear and anxiety that don’t go away
  • loss of appetite, insomnia and an inability to concentrate or enjoy life
  • poor performance on the pitch
  • phobias, panic attacks and anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

If you recognise any of these symptoms, we can help. Get in touch with us so we can help you manage your anxiety, and be at your best.


Contracts and Stress

Players can move clubs an unlimited number of times throughout their career, and the process of contract renewal can be extremely stressful. Short contracts are common in the lower leagues, and the instability that comes with annual negotiations can put you under an incredible amount of strain.

Adrenalin can be beneficial when it triggers heightened reactions and helps score goals, but long periods of living under stress can lead to anxiety and depression. It can also cause physical conditions such as heart disease and migraines, or lead to panic attacks. You might experience extreme stress when:

  • your contract isn’t renewed
  • you have to uproot your family to a club in a new area
  • younger players might challenge your place in the team
  • you’ve had a few games were you haven’t performed well and feel at risk
  • you feel a huge weight of responsibility but can’t talk to anyone

If these situations sound familiar, you could be at risk of developing a serious condition if you don’t get your stress levels under control. Talk to us today, to find out how we can help you manage your stress.


Performance and Panic

The pressure of maintaining personal performance can be hard, and worrying about how you played can affect your mood for days. Sometimes this can even impact your next game, which can make you feel worse.

Every club has fan bases extending into the thousands, increasing the already heavy expectations on players. The consequences of underperforming can be huge, and sometimes the fear of having a bad game can even cause one to happen. Worry can be crippling, and can deeply affect many aspects of your life. You might feel additional pressure when:

  • your club is winning and you don’t want to let them down
  • your club is losing and there’s pressure on you to turn that around
  • you’ve been told to get it together but nobody has asked why your performance has slipped
  • you’re worried about what the fans and media will say about you
  • you’re not sure why you’re worried, but it’s affecting your game
  • you’re overwhelmed with feelings of panic and fear

If you can relate to any of the above, it can be hard to resolve these feelings on your own. Let us help you figure out how to manage your feelings. Get in touch.


Retirement and Anger

Most professional footballers have been playing since childhood, and have known little else for the majority of their lives. For some players, the end of their playing career can be unnerving and depressing, especially when it’s unexpected.

Most players will be sad to leave their playing days behind, and might even feel lost, as their whole identity revolves around who they are on the pitch. Some players are unable to come to terms with the fact that they are no longer professional footballers, and this can quickly lead to feelings of frustration, resentment and anger. These feelings can cause:

  • poor digestion, which can trigger other medical problems
  • high blood pressure and a weakened immune system
  • substance abuse and addictions
  • compulsive or destructive behaviour
  • damaged relationships with the people you care about
  • low self-esteem and depression

If you are experiencing challenges related to the end of your playing career, you don’t have to go through them alone. Our experienced team understand the emotional rollercoaster you’re on, and they can help. Please get in touch so we can support you.

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Can I get help without having to speak to someone?

If your mental health is suffering, we urge you to speak to one of our team so we can recommend the correct type of support to improve your wellbeing. All our services are confidential and you can remain anonymous if you wish. If you really don’t feel you can talk to somebody, please have a look through our self-help resources.

What kind of support would best suit me?

We offer a range of different support options depending on your needs, including counselling sessions and residential rehab. Get in touch with a member of our team who can assess you and suggest some next steps.