North East footballers call for more men to open up about their mental health

Two of the North East's most well-known footballers are encouraging more men to open up about their mental health.

Former Newcastle United defender Steve Howey and current Middlesbrough midfielder Adam Clayton have both revealed to ITV Tyne Tees their own personal, previous experiences of mental health issues.

Adam Clayton outlined how he came to develop OCD and anxiety, while Steve Howey opened up about suffering from depression 11-years-ago, that saw him contemplate taking his own life.

You just get so on top of yourself, and sometimes you just think you know what, I'm such a burden on other people as well, why don't I just take all of that away. I knew I had two options.

Former Newcastle United defender Steve Howey

Both men say that whilst the willingness to open up and talk about mental health has improved, they still believe there is room for more understanding about mental health issues from society.

It comes as research from the men's health charity Movember found that of the men they surveyed:

83%

of men find it helpful when people ask if they’re having a difficult time

46%

nearly half say no one has checked to find out how they are coping during the COVID-19 pandemic

22%

reported their mental health had worsened compared with before the outbreak of COVID-19

These findings indicate that guys are hungry for connection and in need of support in these trying times. While we know these conversations can often feel uncomfortable or awkward, checking in on your mates and loved ones can make the world of difference.

Dr Zac Seidler, Director of Mental Health Training, at Movember

Both Steve and Adam say seeking help and opening up about a mental health issue is one of the bravest things someone can do.

Adam is a firm believer in exercise as a way to ensure positive mental health and he often exercises first thing the morning, while also using meditation and smartphone apps.

Adam's focus is now on the return of playing football for Middlesbrough, now that professional sport has moved another small step closer to a restart after the government published new guidelines on close-contact training.

Meanwhile, Steve Howey will join five other former footballers - including ex-Boro striker Dean Windass - to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money and awareness for mental health charities and the NHS.

Both men say they have a simple message which will always remain their motto. They want to share it with men in the North East. They say it's good to talk.

CONTACTS:

  • Samaritans: Call free on 116 123 or visit the website

  • Crisis Support For Young People: Under 35s. Call Papyrus's Hopeline UK from 9am to 10pm weekdays and 2pm to 10pm on weekends. 0800 068 41 41. Text 07786 209697 or visit the Papyrus website

  • CALM: The Campaign Against Living Miserably, for people in the UK who are down or have hit a wall for any reason. Call 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight). Free, anonymous webchat with trained staff or visit the CALM website

  • If U Care Share: Providing prevention, intervention training & support of those affected by suicide. Call 0191 387 5661 or visit https://www.ifucareshare.co.uk/