If you’re English and even the slightest football fan, today is a pretty great day. Last night, England made it through to the Quarter Finals of the World Cup after an excruciatingly tense match against Colombia which ended in a penalty shoot-out. Yes, you read that right. England won on penalties. It was a moment of pure joy nationwide, proving how sport can bring people together and resulting in millions of sick days today as we all feel the effects of the celebrations. But why should we be celebrating the England football team in a social work context? Two words: Danny Rose.
The England player has recently opened up about his struggles with mental health and how being part of the England team has provided much-needed support, calling it his “salvation”. He’s been very frank about the recent struggles he has faced in his personal life, and how he “contended with the triple trauma” of his uncle’s suicide, his mum encountering racial abuse and someone shooting at his brother. Just considering those circumstances, Danny Rose has not had an easy time lately; however, the universe seemed to want to throw more things his way. In January 2017 he injured his knee which led to repeated injections of cortisone/platelet rich plasma and affected his emotional stability, bringing about a bout of depression. All this he has unveiled in an interview with several national newspapers, which marks an impressive change in how mental health is discussed in the UK.
Football has recently been acknowledged as a form of therapy for those suffering with mental health, with programmes from Mind creating local football communities to bring people together and create a support system. Nevertheless, within the football community itself, mental health is not an easy subject to bring up. Why exactly this is, it’s hard to pinpoint. Is it the celebrity factor, making footballers feel the need to seem “perfect” for their fans? Or is it intrinsically linked to toxic masculinity – the destructive stereotype that men should be “manly”? No matter the cause, mental health and football are not two elements you see together very often.
It’s no secret that we at One Stop Social want to encourage discussions about mental health, as we regularly share resources from our site to help practitioners, we marked #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek across social media and we’ve recognised the efforts of the Royal Family to support mental health issues. We believe that the more we all talk about problems like depression, anxiety and eating disorders, the less power we give to the stigma that treating mental health is a weakness and more people will seek the help they need.
Danny Rose breaking the unspoken rule of “we don’t talk about this”, in terms of mental health acceptance within the football community, was a huge risk and we’re so glad he took it. Thank you so much for highlighting the normality of depression, for showing the world that if even famous footballers can struggle with their mental health, then maybe it’s not such a terrible thing.
Now, we’re off to worship whichever God that gave the One Stop Social new team members (“The Wizzkids”) England in the office World Cup draw. We don’t want to jinx things, but we have to admit, it’s starting to look good!
* whispers *
It’s coming home.