Depression is the predominant mental health problem worldwide. In the UK, 3.3 in 100 people have been diagnosed with the condition. By 2030, it is estimated that there will be around two million more adults in the UK with mental health problems than there were four years ago. The issue is particularly prevalent among men, with 12.5% of men in the UK suffering from one of the common mental health disorders, which includes depression. It is the growing issue of our time and one that the world is struggling to deal with.
Huge strides have been made in recent years, but as a society, we are still far behind when it comes to attitudes to mental health. Men in particular struggle to talk about the issue and are less likely to access psychological therapies than women. This is also why in 2015, 75% of all suicides in the UK were male. It remains the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK.
So when Danny Rose spoke openly about his struggles with depression this week, it was an important moment for football and, indeed, society as a whole.
Breaking the stigma
Here is a 27-year-old man in the prime of his life, earning dream money in a job that most would give their right arm for. For some, it is hard to fathom how his life could be anything but perfect.
Yet here he was discussing his struggles with depression, showing that anyone, anywhere and in any circumstances can face a battle with their mental health. If Rose can struggle, so can you. He is proof that depression can affect anyone.
At the same time, if Rose can talk about it, so can you. If Rose can overcome it, so can you. He will be going to Russia to compete in the World Cup this summer. Depression did not stop him and it should not stop you. It does not signify the end, just a hurdle that needs to be overcome. Rose’s story proves that it is one that can be cleared and left in the distance. It normalises an issue that for many people remains a stigma.
To some, Rose is a hero on the pitch, but now he is a hero for the footballing community.
His open, frank discussion about his battle off the pitch is a heroic action that deserves the awe and praise it has received from the football community. His decision to do so marks an important time in football’s history, and if his candidness helps to open up the debate on depression, then, of course, it is for the better. Football has had its eyes opened and must now take this opportunity to not only improve its own attitude to mental health but use the power it wields to bring about much-needed change in society.
Social phobia can ruin life. People turning for our help want to get their lives back, so we’ve got no right to let them down. Intensive psychotherapy and Xanax work best together and we can see it in our patients. They get more open to society and shy less. Physiological manifestations also improve no shaking, no palpitations, calmer behavior on the whole.
No minders or scripts
Praise should not be solely reserved for the Tottenham star, though. He was keen to turn the limelight to manager Gareth Southgate, and rightly so. Whatever happens to the Three Lions in Russia this summer, he has already succeeded where many England managers have failed.
Rose’s admission came amid a media day for the England team, where every single player was put up to talk to the national media. Not only that, they were left to do so freely. There were no minders or scripts and an acceptance that these are grown men free to speak their own minds. This relaxed atmosphere led to Rose openly discussing his battle with depression and left many journalists impressed by the setup. Southgate is the instigator.
His England squad is comfortable in sharing their opinions with the national press and taking responsibility for them. They are not the inaccessible prima donnas of the past that most English football fans came to openly dislike. Indeed, this new, open nature has only helped to bring fans closer. They have backed Raheem Sterling over the gun tattoo and they have commended Rose for his admission. The fans can relate to him and his struggles.
One step forward
Should England crash and burn this summer, the response is unlikely to be as toxic because this group are more open and attainable than those that preceded them. Southgate creating an open door policy in which the players are treated as the adults they are is the shot in the arm that England, the FA, and English football have needed for some time.
Rose’s admission is just the first positive outcome, and more are likely to follow in future. That is the first important step for the public at least liking England once again. If that proves to be the case, Southgate has at least succeeded where many of his predecessors have fallen short.