Lee Hendrie warns of dangers of bottling up mental health problems

Former Premier League footballer Lee Hendrie has used the start of Mental Health Awareness Week to urge people to talk about their problems.

Hendrie, who made 308 appearances and scored 32 goals for Aston Villa between 1995 and 2007, is part of a new coaching programme focusing entirely on footballers’ mental health and wellbeing.

And the 40-year-old has spoken candidly about the mental health issues he encountered as problems mounted when his playing career was coming to an end.

He told Sky Sports News: “I went through stages where I was coming to the end…..of my career, I was fighting for contracts, I was injured, I was going through divorce, there was a property market crash where I couldn’t sell my house.

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“All of those things built up to make me try and take my own life on numerous occasions. They were dark days. I don’t want to ever see anyone being in that situation.

“Being a proud man and not actually wanting to tell anyone about my problems was horrendous.

“I cannot state enough I never ever want to see anyone go through those times of putting my family through what I did. To think, I woke up on a life support machine at one stage and saw all my family at my bedside.

“I wanted to end it all and let everyone get on with it but it was not the answer. Talking is so key. You do need people around and it is not always your family that you can turn to, because again, being a proud man, you think you can take the world on by yourself.

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“But it is not the way – you certainly need help around.”

Hendrie is working with wellness provider The Sober Advantage. They have launched a coaching programme designed to get clubs at all levels to make emotional well-bring discussions part of their everyday culture.

He added: “We want to get into football clubs, especially Premier League clubs, which is the aim so that they can set the bar and say ‘football is football but there are problems off the pitch that we have to deal with’.”

Mental Health Awareness Week is hosted by the Mental health Foundation. Visit here for more information.