The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) have seen a decline of nearly 29 per cent of its members accessing the organisations counselling services during the pandemic.
Sporting Chance, the sports mental health charity, provides a confidential counselling service enabling members of the PFA to talk through issues including anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, relationship troubles and the transitioning from playing to retirement.
The charity have recorded a year-on-year growth in the number of both playing and retired members seeking help since 2016, however the PFA’s Player Welfare team’s senior figures believe the social restrictions and lockdown constraints are underpinning the concerning fall in members speaking to counsellors.
Former Manchester City midfielder and current PFA Player Welfare Executive, Jeff Whitley said: "It is only a theory at this stage, but we think the pandemic and subsequent lockdown may have led to problems for people coming forward.
"Some people want to tell close families what is going on in their lives, telling them everything that is a problem, but others are different and not having the space to speak to therapists appears to have become an issue.
"Our therapists have their own private practices and would see people in that environment prior to lockdown, but once lockdown began, most of our therapists were doing Skype or Zoom sessions and I think it makes it very difficult if there are quite a number of people in the household.
"When you are in a confined space with friends or family for a long period of time, you can guarantee that there will be a bit of drama.
"So, if you have something you want to get off your chest, and it is about somebody who is in your household, that makes it awkward and very, very difficult to speak up."
Author: Charlie Farmer