Sport Soccer

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Depression is widespread in football, new study reveals

Ex-footballer Clarke Carlisle
Ex-footballer Clarke Carlisle

Depression and mental health problems in football are widespread with more than a third of players reporting symptoms, according to new research.

International players' union FIFPro said 38 per cent of the 607 players interviewed reported having problems at some stage - especially those who had suffered serious injuries. In the general population, the figure is between 13 and 17 per cent.

Former PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle revealed this year he attempted suicide while suffering from depression.

FIFPro had carried out a pilot study in 2013 and the latest research shows the scale of mental health problems among players to be even more serious than was thought from the earlier research.

The findings showed: 38 per cent of 607 current players and 35 per cent of 219 former players sampled reported suffering from symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.

  • Sleep disturbance (23 per cent and 28 per cent respectively), distress (15 per cent and 18 per cent) and adverse alcohol use (nine per cent and 25 per cent) were also reported.
  •  Among current professionals, players who had sustained three or more severe injuries during their career were two to nearly four times more likely to report mental health problems.

FIFPro's chief medical officer Vincent Gouttebarge said: "We hope that with this study comes increased awareness and commitment from all stakeholders in football to put supportive measures in place so that those suffering from mental health problems know they are not alone.

"The study is a necessary first step in ultimately proposing adequate preventive and supportive measures aimed at protecting and empowering the sustainable health of active and retired players.

"It is crucial to establish a body of work on this important topic. The findings in the current study might justify a multidisciplinary approach to a severely injured footballer.

"After surgery, the responsible team doctor and the orthopaedic surgeon should be aware of the potential occurrence of symptoms of mental health problems which may accompany a serious injury.

"This awareness might allow (i) the early treatment of such health conditions, (ii) a better and safer return to sports, and (iii) the application of supportive measures to prevent the development of severe mental disorders in the long term."

The new data was gathered from interviews with current and former professional players across 11 countries on three continents.

Press Association

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