Mental Health Off The Pitch


1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem

These are the latest figures according to Mind, and similar levels of mental health issues of some sort occur every year in England. This means that it happens to footballers and sports people too - the reality is that no-one is exempt from mental health problems.

It’s clear that footballers, and sports players, experience a lot of pressure with their games and that can have an impact on their mental health, but what isn’t always clear are the underlaying issues that they may have. In David Beckham’s latest Netflix documentary, the ex-footballer opened up about how he lives with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and how it is very “tiring”; he’s not the only footballer to mention mental health problems, and he definitely won’t be the last.

Mental health issues are wide-ranging and very complex. It’s not just anxiety and depression or stress, although they are some of the most common (according to Mind). Therefore, without the obvious pressures that come with being a professional athlete, sports people can still have mental health struggles that are completely separate from the game.

How we're working to ensure everyone has access to support for good mental health

Here at UKIM, our fully trained Psychologists and Nurses are equipped for anything that can help you, outside of your job. Laura Sharp, UKIM Lead Occupational Health Advisor, says:

“We see a lot of people that are struggling with their mental health but are actually coping well at work and it’s work that is aiding in their recovery. We see people that may be having mental difficulties which could be anxiety, depression, and stress outside of work.”

Making sure you get the right help, even if it’s not a work-related issue, is imperative. Laura shares how Occupational Health teams can help employees and sports professionals: 

Occupational health input is a vital resource to any organisation that cares about their employees' wellbeing. Often in the past, it has been seen as a punishment to be referred to OH, when in reality we can be the important link between the employee and employer, that enables a person to successfully return or remain at work avoiding long sickness absence.”

“We provide advice and guidance to employers through evidence-based reports on how a person can be supported back to work; this often includes adjustments such as reduced hours, phased plans, avoiding certain physical movements, and sometimes even moving areas if nothing else can be feasibly changed. Where needed, we also offer referrals to counselling services and other agencies such as the Crisis Team and Samaritans. We are able to review employees when they return to work to ensure they are coping and to adjust any phased hours plans to best suit their needs.”

Everyone should have access to mental health support and the sporting industry has been under scrutiny for it over the years - that’s why UKIM want to offer external, private and confidential support to athletes. We believe that everyday health matters.