Mental Health Awareness Week: Clarke Carlisle says spotting early signs of struggle is key
Last Updated: 22/05/18 10:37am
Former Professional Footballers' Association chairman Clarke Carlisle wants people to be able to spot the early signs of mental health issues in those around them.
Carlisle, 38, whose own mental health problems have been well documented, has long been a campaigner for improved mental health services across the UK.
Speaking to Sky Sports News during Mental Health Awareness Week, the former QPR, Leeds and Burnley defender outlined the importance of spotting early changes in behaviour in those who may be suffering mental health issues.
He said: "Back in September, I was in the depth of a depressive episode. What happens then is that my perspective is warped. What my perceived reality is, isn't what is actually going on around me. So I genuinely believed that I needed to go away, I believed the world needed to be rid of me. That's what I intended to do.
"Thankfully my family put the message out and two fantastic guys in Liverpool found me where I was. It's from that point that I have been able to get into some really strong support structures, to get the right help to get me to this point of health today.
"There are often signs. Part of my journey is creating an awareness plan, the input comes from myself and my wife depending on what my signs and symptoms are. Generally, it is difficult to look our for a specific sign in others - you need to look for a change in behaviour.
"To acknowledge a change in behaviour you need to know the norm. That person is who usually bright and cheerful that might be quiet and reserved. That person who is usually immaculately dressed who might be a little bit dishevelled.
"That's when we, the third party, need to say: 'Hey, what's going on? You don't seem yourself at the moment."
Carlisle, a former Premier League footballer, understands it is can be even more difficult to speak openly about mental health as an elite sportsperson.
He continued: "It's incredibly difficult to speak out. Stress is an important part of everyday life, it evokes a response in us. The application of that stress and overcoming it is what makes them elite sports people.
"What we need to understand is their perception of it. A guy like myself could go out and play in front of 50,000 people no bother, but take me to a dinner party and make me have a conversation with three people and that's where my stress kicks in.
"Everyone needs to understand their own environment, how stress applies to their lives and then be able to mitigate that. It doesn't matter if you are a Premier League footballer, an elite sportsperson, a nurse or an unemployed single parent - you need to understand how stress affects you in your life."
Mental Health Awareness Week is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation. Visit here for more information.