Please remember that footballers can also suffer from depression (Mental Health Week)

Mental Health Week by Dan Smith

We are currently in Mental Health Week. If I can write daily articles on JustArsenal, then the least I can do is to use this platform to spread awareness of an illness which more and more young people are facing.

In the UK, research shows 1 in 6 people have experienced some sort of battle with Mental Health, 1 in 5 have considered suicide. Put those statistics next to Football. And I know which one is important.

Those numbers suggest that in the law of averages there will be professional players facing this battle as well. While the likes of Danny Rose has been brave telling his story, more needs to be done to help individuals to not feel judged if they did speak out.

The idea you should be happy because you have lots of money is a fallacy. How many famous musicians and movie stars suffer a form of addiction or even worse, take their own life?

Two players at Arsenal this season have talked about how online trolls have affected them mentally. Yet did we, as a fanbase, truly support them like we did when a Tony Adams or Paul Merson admitted to being alcoholics? That tells me we still don’t treat the issue like we should.

Maybe some gooners think it’s easier to tell a Mustafi to toughen up rather than reflect on their words? This is not to preach. It’s not about saying that you don’t have the right to an opinion. It’s expecting people to know the difference between criticism and verbal abuse.

Ozil for example is often a target, but have you actually read the words he’s called and how often? Some say he’s mentally weak, but it takes a strong mind to deal with daily hatred.

Only you know yourself if have you written that you don’t think he’s a good enough character as an opinion, or if you’ve taken it too far and attacked him as a person?

There are those who only see footballers as part of this other world that consumes them over the weekend. Anyone who’s been to a stadium will have heard a player spoken to harshly, but that same person wouldn’t dare speak to someone like that at work, or his/her family, or the bus driver, etc. To those peeps, they will just bring up the players wage as justification that he should be able to let it go over his head. He’s still a person, a dad, a husband, a father, a brother, etc.

Like you can just get a bug, you can suddenly feel worthless without knowing why, and it can’t then help to read certain things. If Ozil turned around tomorrow and said he had thoughts of self-harm could you look in the mirror and be content that you always were kind and respected a man who never did anything wrong to you?

Again, deep down you know if you have simply said ‘he shouldn’t be our number 10’ or if you have taken it too far.

During this Pandemic, cases of depression and suicide numbers will rise. Some people are on their own and not able to see loved ones.

If I could make you aware of anything, it’s just takes that time to think about your words before pressing send. Think how might that person feel, could it upset them, and is that the price they pay just so you can make a point. Even in the comments section sometimes I’ll be reading a debate and then someone has to swear or attack that person, not his or her opinion. That person could be having a horrible time and your actions could be the final straw. Maybe you didn’t mean to upset them, but just never considered that words have consequences.

My rationale in any situation, is the moment I’m sworn at I don’t interact, because to me it should take something serious for someone to be that angry.

I’m taking that extra time to contact peeps who I know who are on their own, even just to let them know I’m thinking of them.

We need dark to see light but only if you talk to someone, friends, family, your GP, even me on here. If at any point you feel you can’t manage your emotional or mental well-being then please ring…

The Samaritans – free number 116 123 (open 24 hours)

Rethink – 0300 5000 927

Bad times don’t last forever, but good people do.
So, if you’re sending a message online, tweeting about a footballer, or next to man at bus stop, just step back and remember you don’t know what’s going on in his life and you could be adding to stress or helping him out. Not just in this Mental health week but forever.

Let’s all be kind to one another…

Dan Smith


  1. Sue says:

    Superb, Dan….👍
    This is a matter close to my heart, having suffered once. Nobody knows what it’s like until you’ve experienced it.. and one thing I cannot stand is when you’re told to ‘pull yourself together’ – if only it was that simple!!
    Having listened to Merse, Vinnie Jones and Lee Hendrie open up on Harry’s Heroes, just goes to show this awful illness can affect anyone!
    Don’t keep things bottled up – a problem shared really is a problem halved! It really does help to talk, and there’s no shame in admitting you have a problem….
    Thanks again, Dan, great article 👏

    1. Dan says:

      Thanks Sue
      Even by saying what you said it helps spread awareness
      If one person reads what we have said and rethinks then we done our bit x

  2. Jah son says:

    A very good article but not sure if it’s been given a listening ear. I think a major part of the problem is when so called leaders and so called roll models and people with age that the younger ones look up to actually do the same name calling.
    Some even proclaim to be wise and realistic in their rant.

  3. jon fox says:

    On an important point Dan and while I much agree with the thrust of your fine article, you disappoint me- as someone who has considered you a thinking person – when even you misuse the word”hate” for a fan who thinks Ozil is mentally weak. I do not and never have, never will remotely “hate” him. But I think he is mentally weak on the pitch (which is where it matters to us fans).

    It is a cop out to try, mistakenly, to equate “hate” for a mere opinion of any footballers effectiveness with the TRUE meaningof “hate”. True hate is what Hitler had for Jews, Gypsies, gay and disabled folk. It is what tyrants like Stalin, Kim jung un, President XI, Trump and other disordered non evolved folk have for precious human beings who are different from them(thankfully!!) or who disobey them.

    Hate is NOT and never can be be, thankfully, what decent thinking liberal minded folk, like me and almost all others on here, have for a mere opinion -and it is JUST my opinion, though shared by many others – for the effectiveness of Ozil or any other such and such a mere footballer in a mere game like football.

    I’d love your serious reply to my main point please Dan and any other Gooners who may wish to reply. Please, please, PLEASE can we avoid misusing “hate” and thus normalising it !! It is NOT normal . It is evil and I doubt and pray that even a single Gooner is remotely evil. Are you!

    I’d also like the Admins to comment since even they have misused the word” hate” on occasion in their own articles. If we start thinking that a mere difference of opinion means that the other person “hates” us or hates what we write, than our common human race is on a very slippwry slope my friends.

    1. Dan says:

      I respect that Jon and will use a better word then hate
      I see your point

      1. jon fox says:

        Thanks and sincerely so DAN. You are well capable and have shown so too, that you can change people opinions byyour wll expressed articles. Words used correctly and in their true meaning are powerful tools in the right hands and I am chuffed though not at all surprised by your kind and thoughtful reply.
        Let us two be leaders in understanding the necessity of correct language. Bad word choices , which you see used everywhere, so often leads to misunderstandings and then pointless arguments, often about nothing serious. Correct language is a powerful tool.
        As a writer I have always known this and long time campaigned for its use. This site is just one among many platforms too. Truly grateful to you!

  4. SueP says:

    I’ve been down in the dumps but have never suffered from anxiety or depression but know a couple of people who have and Sue has hit the nail on the head.

    I’m not a follower of any of the social media platforms and have never wanted to know what celebrities wear, eat or who they go out with. I think it is part of the problem but putting yourself out there carries risks and the need for a thick skin.

    Footballers, like actors and pop stars, are in the entertainment business. A bad review can kill a career. I’m not surprised that famous sports stars are susceptible to mental health issues, especially if they carry a weight of responsibility on their shoulders to win, win, win.

    In top level football the pressure must be immense and clearly some players handle it better than others. Men in particular have been guilty over the years of bottling up their feelings and it helps that Prince William is spearheading an initiative to reach out and help. It shouldn’t be taboo.

    Occasionally I have been shocked at the tone of some respondents on JA but never mind reading a well thought out opinion if it’s different to mine

    Perhaps we were kinder to Adams and Merson, but back then we didn’t live in a world of rolling news and vitriol from abusive fans on social media. The low life who troll on line are cowards

    A very thought provoking article and a reminder to do as I would be done by

    1. jon fox says:

      A wonderful and mature post SueP. Cathartic to readt too. I havehad my own mental problems, now thankfully well behind me, which, surprises some folk I tell this to, as I am so outspoken and will, freely speak about any human cause given even half a chance.
      I do not think we should confuse differing opinionsand plain speaking with “hate” which is something sinister and evil as we all know. WE SHOULD BE FREE TO SPEAK OUR PLAIN OPINIONS BUT TACTFULLY, WHICH I AM GUILTY OF NOT DOING AND OFTEN TOO.
      But once we start putting correct use of words on the shelf marked “essential” – which is so important and avoids so many pointless arguments -the sooner we can all begin to realise that difference of opinions are in fact healthy and good for the important diversity of our precious human race and enforced conformity is bad, controlling and illiberal.

      You and I have lived through the times when rigid conformality of opinions was socially expected and we both know the harm it did.
      It was what Enoch Powell tried to propogate as recently as 1968 in that evil and sickening “Rivers of Blood” speech. Thank God his disordered and Neanderthal sort are now derided and ignored by liberal and free minded folk everywhere.

      1. SueP says:

        Indeed Jon
        And I’m pleased that the bad times are behind you. Yes we are of a riper age than a lot and everything was stiff upper lip then.
        Freedom of speech is a democratic right and I’m so grateful to live in a democratic nation where we are able to air our views without fear of retribution

  5. Mogunna says:

    I’m 100% with you. I have at many times ridiculed comments, not in a bad way but of course we often a bit much. Passion and love for the club but anyone can have an opinion even if everyone disagree. Some love Luiz Sokratis as CB pair but many won’t, call them laim and comment retarded.

    I did ii as many of us, not meaning to harm but overreacting, out of passion

    All I should reply is::
    We need Koulibaly to improve our CB position.

    That’s it, no need to say Luiz & Sokratis are a laim CB pair and writer smoked something crazy!

    Apologies and mainly to every readers here..

    Only one we can be mad at is Kroenke who makes the calls, hires board to implement his dirt.

    He has no respect for anyone nor care for football to do so for Arsenal. We are suckers to him, making him rich while he ruins club completly.

    Wenger was saving us for ages, fighting Kroenke, we kicked him out for Kroenke! Now all alone in command, sinking Arsenal in 18 month time!

  6. ken1945 says:

    I seem to remember when Per Mertesacker revealed how much he suffered when preparing for a game, he was told to “man up” and realise how lucky he was!!!
    Perhaps this excellent article by Dan (yet again) will remind all of us what responsibilities we have as fans and people.
    I know that I have overstepped the mark on occasions, something that does bother me, passion is a powerful feeling.
    What I find so incredible about this site is that if one was able to get everyone who contributes together at a match – one that we won, of course, every single one of us would be jumping around in complete ecstasy together!!!
    Using the term “mentally weak or frail” to describe any person’s actions is morally wrong and there are so many other words to describe what one is trying to say – just as “dross” described in the dictionary as “worthless matter” is also.

    If this article stops the use of such derogatory language when describing another human being, then you have done an excellent job Dan… meanwhile I will have my dictionary next to me in order to practice what I preach.

  7. june smith says:

    This is so true.It doesnt matter whether you are a footballer,a pop star or famous actor or a man on the street, mental health affects us all.It does not discriminate from wealth to poor,the colour of your skin,or indeed your age. You are right just because a footballer may have more money then others and have a privileged lifesyle their pain and suffering is the same.Let us be more aware of everyones mental health at all times.

  8. Shakir says:

    The funny part in these cases is that people fear to reveal that they suffer.They think its not normal as if the mind is not a part of the body🤔…

    Everybody has problems and i honestly believe that everyone undergoes a certain level of stress everyday but when you really feel like you cant take it anymore…thats when the situation become dangerous.

    And about my brother mesut,to say he is mentally weak is a joke😂 and not just him every scapegoat out there…

    1. ken1945 says:

      Shakir, your last sentence is so very true – if it’s not Ozil, it will be Xhaka, if not him it will be Mustafi and so it goes on.

      These kind of guys must have immense inner strength to put up with the kind of abuse they take.

      The most telling thing, however, is when Xhaka returned the abuse, the outcry was instantaneous.

      Abuse is bullying and just like bullies, when the tables are turned, the screams of indignation reach fever pitch.

      Words can hurt just as much as physical contact and I wonder just how they would react if confronted with what Mesut has had to put up with in the last three years?

      1. Shakir says:

        And still Mesut was able to create the most chances by an arsenal player from the start of 2018 up to now.Infact he has made the second most key passes since his debut in the premier league,and Eriksen who tops him has played 40+ games.

        Getting abused is one thing,but putting up those stats is no small thing…🙄

        1. ken1945 says:

          Shakir, I’m not even worried about the stats regarding this article – it’s that people think they can post things that, if it would said to them, they would be indignant, mortified and, quite rightly, annoyed.

          Yet they feel it is perfectly ok to abuse and bully players they don’t like – the hypocrisy is so two faced, it’s worrying!!

          If he hadn’t abused the shirt, I would have been 100% behind him.

        2. Lenohappy says:

          Shakir Shakir, this is a well written article by a sensible author, please don’t turn it to an Ozil article, thank you.

  9. Solly gunner says:

    A good post mate
    Sue sorry to hear you have gone through this aswell
    I have lost the last 10 years of my life to severe depression and anxiety/ agoraphobia
    It really is a misunderstood issue and a few good points made by others
    Sue p / ken ect
    as you said everyone I think has suffered from stress , being down in the dumps, not having a good day but yes it is definitely a million miles away from deep depression
    I have tried to take my own life with very bad consequences
    The first time I’ve said that out loud….
    It’s very hard to talk about as people will say “man up ”
    Or yeah i had a bad day or week not that I take anything away from anyone
    But it’s not the same thing
    Anyway I didn’t want to make this about myself just say thanks for bringing the subject up
    I find it hard to stay on point so sorry if I’m rambling
    I hope anyone else out there that is suffering can find a friend / family member to talk to
    If not get help
    I doesn’t make you weak , I come from a very tough environment and had to learn this the hard way by saying nothing till it destroyed me

    1. Sue says:

      Hi Solly..omg 10 years…makes me want to cry reading what other people have been through and how bad it’s been for them. You just have to remember there is light at the end of the tunnel, yes on those dark, dark days you never feel you’re going to reach it, but when you do it’s such a beautiful feeling! Mine was 20 years ago, but it’s always in the back of my mind what if it comes back? Touch wood, it hasn’t, but I can still remember how I felt as if it was yesterday… I always found it helped having something to look forward to, still do that even today!
      Keep your chin up, Solly… remember we’re all here for you, come and chat to us if you’re feeling low…. you’re not alone 🙂

    2. SueP says:

      Dear Solly Gunner

      Your post was such a powerful message and my heart goes out to you for the struggles you have encountered. It was also brave of you to speak out on JA and I hope that by doing so, the many who will have read it will think twice about being unkind.

      1. Solly gunner says:

        Hi sue p
        Sorry I saw your post late
        Thank you very nice reply
        Was a bit weird putting something like that on hear but I felt like the post deserved to be spoken about

    3. ken1945 says:

      Solly gunner, SIR, you are a real man to have come through the trials and tribulations of your life to date, along with Sue.

      As I mentioned previously, you two (and any other person who has fought throught this awful illness) are so much stronger than the likes of myself – simply because I have never had to face these demons.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with us and also to Dan, for a superb article that allowed others to open up and describe their personal nightmares.

      I just hope we have all listened and learned how much words can be such a powerful tool in demeaning someone.

      June Smith, thank you and let’s hope others feel the same way.

      1. Solly gunner says:

        Thank you
        It’s strange to hear people say your strong as my partner does to me aswell
        When this illness makes people feel so weak
        I was a fighter from a young age then a coach as I said before grew up in a tough environment
        Then not being able to even leave the front door due to severe anxiety/ panic attacks
        It definitely doesn’t make you think your strong

        1. ken1945 says:

          Believe me Solly you and Sue are, as the posts on here are testament to that overwhelming opinion.

          With your partner supporting you, the sky’s the limit and let’s hope Mikel Arteta will make life even easier as we sweep the trophy board next season – take care and keep fighting.

          1. Sue says:

            You’re so kind, Ken 🙂

            Solly, I’m so glad you have someone with you.. you take good care!

  10. Solly gunner says:

    Thanks sue that’s really kind
    Yeah I set myself little goals for each day even if it’s just a shave 😁
    The reason it got so bad is I didn’t deal with problems from childhood
    Then went along the drink and other bad roots road
    Throw in a load more turmoil along the way over 20 years and then it all hit when I got injured and laid up
    I lost 2 businesses
    That’s why from experience I’m saying if anyone else has problems definitely talk talk talk get started and get it out there as hard as it is
    Anyway glad you’re so much better sue I hope it stays that way 👊👊

    1. Sue says:

      That’s a hell of a lot to cope with, it was bound to hit you like a ton of bricks at some point… having said that though, I’m really glad it hasn’t beaten you! Keep smiling, Solly…. and even laughing, as apart from being infectious, they say it’s the best medicine!! 😊

      1. Sue says:

        And btw, thank you, Solly 😊👍

  11. Solly gunner says:

    One thing it hasn’t taken sue is my sense of humour
    Grateful for that 😊
    Have a good day
    Are you working or soaking up the sun

    1. Sue says:

      Glad to hear it – you can’t beat a laugh/banter!!! I am a lady of leisure, not back at work until Saturday 😁 yippee!! Are you sunning it? It’s a beautiful day…
      Woke up to a fox in my garden!!

  12. Solly gunner says:

    Wicked I’m always putting food out for the local wildlife we get a lot hedgehogs foxes ect
    Nice thing to wake up to
    I’m trying to get out in the garden just not a great day
    Hope u enjoy have a couple for me in the sun 🍺🍺🍹🍹

    1. Sue says:

      Well there’s always tomorrow…. and it can only get better, Solly…. only one way to go and that is up!! 🙏
      Even the small things help… so as I said keep smiling and stay positive!
      I doubt you’d like my drink – pepsi max 😂😂 hardcore, hey?! 😂😂
      Been nice talking to you, Solly 🙂

  13. Solly gunner says:

    😁😁yeah only regular cola for me sue im a lightweight 😁

    Thanks sue p very nice post
    hope your having a good day aswell

  14. Dan says:

    Thank you everyone for being brave in sharing your stories
    I understand it might not be what your looking to read on a fan site but the point of Mental Health Week is to spread awareness
    If one person reads our comments and that makes them treat a person better tomorrow then we’ll done justarsenal

  15. Solly gunner says:

    Well said dan

  16. Irebami001 says:

    I’m inspired by all the experiences I’ve read, it’s a joy to be member of jusrarsenal. I love you all

  17. RSH says:

    Good article Dan. Not something we hear about much, and not something us fans really consider either.

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