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Self Help and Further Contacts

Leon McKenzie

If you have been affected by any of the issues covered in this section you may find this list of contacts helpful. All approaches will be treated with strict confidentiality.

First Approaches

If you need someone to talk to first try:

  • The PFA. Call the 24/7/365 counselling telephone helpline (login required): click here. Alternatively email: wellbeing@thepfa.co.uk or call the main office on 0161 236 0575.
  • Your club. Don’t bottle it up, talk  to your physio, club doctor or club chaplain.
  • Your doctor.  The club doctor may refer you to your own GP or to more specialist help/organisations.
  • Specialist help. You can find more about depression and where to get help/advice from these more specialist organisations.  

Depression

Don’t try and manage depression on your own – talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling. Depression can make you feel worthless. Try to be aware of any negative thoughts you have about yourself and how they might be affecting how you see yourself and how you feel. If you can, try to think about how realistic these thoughts are and how you might change them into something more positive.

Take action to find help. This will make you feel more in control - go and see the club doctor. 

The good news is that most people recover from depression. The earlier they seek help the better the chances of early recovery.

There are two main approaches to treating depression - medical (anti-depressants) and non medical (talking therapies). Your club doctor will advise on what anti-depressants a player can safely and legally take but it may be that the GP recommends therapy instead. Exercise is also recommended as a treatment for mild to moderate depression (NICE, 2009).

Anxiety

It can be difficult to talk about feelings but there are people who are there to support you. Helpful numbers and organisations are listed in the final section – Support Resources and Contacts. It is hard to admit to fears and hard to talk about them but asking for help is the first step to taking control. 

  • Talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) are very effective for people with anxiety problems. If you are not comfortable talking about your feelings face to face there are online self-help CBT packages which could help you.
  • Improve your lifestyle. Find time to eat properly, reduce alcohol intake, get plenty of exercise and enough sleep
  • Confide in someone. Don’t keep emotions bottled up and focus on the positive aspects of your life. 

Stress

  • Make the connection. If you’re not feeling good, maybe you are under too much pressure?
  • Take a regular break. Give yourself a brief break whenever you feel things are getting on top of you
  • Learn to relax. Follow a simple routine to relax your muscles and slow your breathing
  • Get better organised. Make a list of jobs, tackle one task at a time, alternate dull tasks with interesting ones
  • Sort out your worries. Divide them into those that you can do something about (either now or soon) and those that you can’t. There’s no point in worrying about things that you can’t change.
  • Change what you can. Look at the problems that can be resolved, and get whatever help is necessary to sort them out. Learn to say ‘no’.
  • Improve your lifestyle. Find time to eat properly, reduce alcohol intake, get plenty of exercise and enough sleep
  • Confide in someone. Don’t keep emotions bottled up, and focus on the positive aspects of your life.

Panic and Performance

People can learn to feel less fearful, and to cope with fear so it doesn’t stop them from living. Here are some suggestions for how to do it.

  • Face Your Fear. When people avoid situations that scare them they might stop doing things they want or need to do. It’s better to test out whether the situation is always as bad as expected, rather than miss the chance to work out how to manage fears and reduce anxiety.
  • Know Yourself. Each person should try to find out more about their particular fear and anxiety. Keep a record of when it happens and what happens. Set small, achievable goals to face your fears.
  • Relax. Learning relaxation techniques can help with the mental and physical feelings of fear.
  • Avoid Alcohol or Drink in Moderation. It’s very common for people to drink when they feel nervous. Some people call alcohol ‘Dutch courage’. But the after-effects of alcohol can make you feel even more afraid or anxious.
  • Non Medical Therapies. Some people find complementary therapies help, like massage or herbal products.
  • Faith and Spirituality. If you are religious or spiritual, this can give you a way of feeling connected to something bigger than yourself. It can provide a way of coping with everyday stress and church and other faith groups can be a valuable support network.

Retirement and Anger

It’s much healthier to recognise anger and express it directly in words, not in violent action. Expressing anger assertively in this way:

  1. Benefits relationships and how you feel about yourself
  2. Allows you to say what you mean and feel, and stops you from reaching ‘explosion’ point.

Assertiveness Training. There are many anger management and assertiveness courses around which help people learn ways to control their anger and channel it into more positive action.

Caring for Yourself. Exercise increases self-esteem, so don’t let the training slip.

Don’t Drink Too Much. The effects of alcohol on the emotions are well known. Often people drink more when they are upset or depressed which only makes them feel worse. Too much alcohol can lead to loss of control where people say or do things they will later regret.

Look at Behaviour Patterns. Get to know your own pattern of behaviour and history around anger. Was there lots of anger in your family? Who got angry, and what happened when they did?

Find someone to talk to about your feelings – an understanding friend, or a professional counsellor.

If you feel you are affected by any of the issues covered in this section you may find this list of contacts helpful. All approaches will be treated with strict confidentiality.

National Sources of Help from within the Game

Sporting Chance Clinic: One of the world’s most innovative centres for the treatment of behavioural problems among professional and amateur sports people. Find out more

The Football Association 

Pastoral Care: Score Sports Chaplaincy, Matt Baker, Pastoral Support Director.

General Advice and Support

Alcoholics Anonymous

Anxiety UK: Provides information, help and advice

British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP): Full directory of psychotherapists available online.

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP): See the website or phone to find local practitioners.

Depression Alliance: Information and support for anyone affected by depression.

Everyman Project: Counselling for men who want to stop violence.

Help with Stress: Website offering help to find local stress practitioners.

MIND – the mental health charity: National charity providing information, advice, leaflets, helpline and front-line services.

National Problem Gambling Clinic

NHS

  • Tel: NHS direct on 0845 4647, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Web: www.nhs.choice

Samaritans: Samaritans provides confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide.

Supportline: For problems, including child abuse, bullying, depression, anxiety, domestic violence and sexual assault

Time to Change: Campaign run by Mind and Rethink to tackle mental health discrimination. Working to raise awareness in football and other sports.