More Needs to be Done Around Mental Health in Football

The Kaleidoscope Plus Group has long promoted for the need for football clubs to do more around the issue of mental health and earlier this week, an exclusive survey by ITV News once again brought the subject to the fore with almost 90% of its respondents saying they had experienced depression or anxiety since being released from their club. 

During an interview with ITV News, James Aspinall, who once played in goal for Bolton Wanderers spoke about being suicidal when he was released and said that he believes football in general and clubs, in particular, should take greater responsibility.  

Back in September 2020, The Kaleidoscope Plus Group was appointed as Kidderminster Harriers FC’s new shirt sponsor, which made us the only mental health charity to be supporting a National League club.

The partnership between Kidderminster Harriers FC and The Kaleidoscope Plus Group was created in an effort to help tackle the stigma that surrounds mental health within the football community and to help the club’s players access mental health and wellbeing support, but there’s still so much to be done.

Kaleidoscope CEO Monica Shafaq, who was also appointed as a non-executive Director at the Worcestershire-based football club in February 2020 due to her equality roles within football and the Premier League, said: “Football is ruthless. So many kids devote their time & energy hoping to be the next big thing. Less than 1% make it. The feeling of loss is like being bereaved. Clubs and academies must do more to prepare kids & professionals for life after football. Their mental health matters too.

“Proper educational and emotional support pathways need to be provided within football, so players, no matter what age or level, have the tools to deal with the emotional distress of being released, whilst also having the skills to do something else.”

Neil Male, CEO at Kidderminster Harriers FC added: “Mental health has a huge stigma within football, but our partnership with The Kaleidoscope Plus group has enabled us to work with players from the grassroots up to our first team, to educate and support them during their time with us and beyond.”

“The survey, conducted by ITV News, highlights the importance of our partnership with The Kaleidoscope Plus Group, but it’s clear that there’s still so much to be done within clubs and the wider football community to support players’ mental health and wellbeing on and off the pitch as well as when they leave.”

Established in 1973, The Kaleidoscope Plus group supports thousands of people across the UK with their mental health and wellbeing each year.