Everton's Alex Iwobi urges other black men to open up about mental health after own struggles

Alex Iwobi has opened up about his own mental health and has urged other men to do the same. Credit: PA images

Everton's Alex Iwobi has urged other men - especially black men - to not be "afraid to be vulnerable" and look after their mental health.The 26-year-old Nigerian international admits he has had his own difficulties and the way he coped with them was by speaking to psychiatrist and his fellow team-mates."Don't be afraid to be vulnerable," he said at the Beder World Cup experience, an exhibition in London to raise awareness around mental health and suicide prevention.

"I feel like it is something within men, especially black men, as society is positioned not do that and if you do you are weak. Be OK being vulnerable, there is nothing wrong with it."

Everton's Alex Iwobi (top) says speaking with team-mates helped him overcome mental health struggles in the past. Credit: PA images

Mental health has become an increasingly important subject within football and Iwobi insists seeking advice and accepting help is vital.

"It is only going through life - and there is so much trauma in young black men - (you learn) that if you only speak about it you'd be able to navigate it.""There is nothing wrong with telling people 'I'm not all right in the world", he continued to say. "I'm just not in the right space'."Playing football is a big one because you are not dealing with the issue at hand, it is still there and you escape it but it is still with you."I feel like it is something within men, especially black men, as society is positioned not do that and if you do you are weak."Be OK being vulnerable, there is nothing wrong with it."

Alex Iwobi pays tribute to his current manager Frank Lampard. Credit: PA images

Iwobi says he has learned to deal with his issues, by seeing a psychiatrist while he was still at Arsenal and he paid tribute to current boss Frank Lampard."Last season I wasn't playing as much as I'd like to and then in January I had the Africa Cup of Nations and I had that red card (at the tournament) which essentially knocked us out and it was a difficult time for me," Iwobi added."I came back to a new manager with Frank Lampard and I'm grateful to him as he said 'Why don't you play matches the way you train?'."That pressure which was on my shoulders just left me. He gave me that confidence so I had that freedom to enjoy my football."Ever since I've had that mindset where I go into the game fearless and express myself."

Worried about mental health?

CALM

CALM, or the Campaign Against Living Miserably, runs a free and confidential helpline and webchat – open from 5pm to midnight every day, for anyone who needs to talk about life’s problems.

It also supports those bereaved by suicide, through the Support After Suicide Partnership (SASP).

  • Phone their helpline: 0800 585858 (Daily, 5pm to midnight)

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James’ Place

Suicide prevention centre in Liverpool offering life-saving support to men in suicidal crisis.

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Mind

Mind is a mental health charity which promotes the views and needs of people with mental health issues.

It provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, and campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.

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PAPYRUS

For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice you can contact PAPYRUS HOPELINE247 on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. PAPYRUS aims to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by breaking down the stigma around suicide and equipping people with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.

HOPELINE247 is the charity’s confidential 24 hour helpline service providing practical advice and support to young people with thoughts of suicide and anyone concerned about a young person who may have thoughts of suicide.

HOPELINE247 is staffed by trained professionals, offering a telephone, text and email service.

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Samaritans

Samaritans is an organisation offering confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

  • Phone 116 123 (a free 24 hour helpline)

  • Email: jo@samaritans.org

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YoungMinds

YoungMinds is a resource with information on child and adolescent mental health, but also offers services for parents and professionals.

It is the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people's mental health, and wants to make sure all young people can get the mental health support they need, when they need it

  • YoungMinds Textline - Text YM to 85258

  • Phone Parents' helpline 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am - 4pm)

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