During Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we have been speaking to a number of sports professionals and athletes. Here we spoke with British heavyweight boxer David Allen, dubbed the White Rhino, who is hopes that by speaking out about his own struggles with mental health, it may encourage others to do the same.
Dave has always been transparent about his personal struggles with mental health in the past, which have caused difficulties for himself and his career in the ring.
"I pulled out of a show and people asked me: 'Dave, why did you pull out of the show?' I was 24 at the time and I was a little unsure and I just said I don't really feel very well.
"And they said 'what's wrong with you?' I said 'there is nothing wrong with me physically'. I said, 'I just don't feel very well and I don't feel very happy and I'm having this problem and that problem'."
Throughout the past 12 months, lockdowns and being forced to stay inside away from family and friends has only further accelerated a growing mental health problem across the UK, but it is something that Dave chose to rise to and he was able to accomplish much during the time he had been gifted.
"During lockdown last year, I lost two stone and this year, I have become a licensed professional boxing trainer and manager," he started.
"I don’t think I will ever have a life without boxing, it is all I’ve known since leaving school and all I want to do, whether thats participating, fighting, training or managing."
As he looks ahead to the future and what it might hold for mental health in this country, Dave believes that the tides are beginning to turn as "we are getting better at talking about the problem," he said, and as others continue to share their experiences as well, it will only go on to benefit all of us.
"I think we're starting to tackle and face it head on. It's easy for people like me because I was very lucky at a young age that I realised what I was," he continued.
"I wasn't ashamed of it and I just came out and said it how I see it, like I do with everything. If I can encourage one person to do it, and they can do it in turn, the world will be a much better place."
Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place from 10 to 16 May and we have spoken to a number of professionals across the sports industry about their mental wellbeing. To find out more about the services Premier Sports Network and our charity partner Beder provide to help promote positive mental health across the world of sport, please email email@example.com