Neil Lennon opens up over depression struggle while at Hibs

Hibernian manager Neil Lennon revealed he suffered with depression last year. Picture; SNS
Hibernian manager Neil Lennon revealed he suffered with depression last year. Picture; SNS

Hibs boss Neil Lennon has revealed he battled a bout of depression while leading the Easter Road side to the Championship title.

The former Celtic captain has spoken previously about how he struggled with his mental health during his playing 
days.

Now he has again opened up on the issues he continues to face since moving into a management position.

Lennon confessed he found himself feeling low as the 
efforts required to guide the Leith outfit back to the top flight took their toll.

Speaking to mark the start of Mental Health Week, he said: “The job is difficult enough when you’re feeling okay.

“But when you suffer from a bout of depression, everything is magnified. You feel ten times worse about things. I did have an episode of it this season for about four or five weeks and the club were great about it.

“They were really supportive, as were my back-room staff as well. I got through it okay and came out the other side. When you come out the other side it’s a great feeling.

“There was a lot of people there for me, the LMA [League Managers Association] as well. They were a great source of help.

“What you do is put a brave face on publicly – but inside you are feeling it. I totally understand why people don’t want to talk about it but the more you talk about it to professional people the easier it becomes to deal with.”

It comes just days after it emerged that Everton winger Aaron Lennon had been detained under the Mental Health Act, with his club saying he was suffering from a stress-related illness.

Calum Irving, director of mental health charity See Me Scotland, said: “Mental health is part of everyone’s life, it affects all of us and as Neil Lennon shows, any of us could experience difficulties with our mental health at any 
time.

“Despite this, there is still a stigma around it. To tackle this properly we need people to understand that it is okay not to be okay. People who experience mental health problems can, and do, continue to live fulfilled lives. Neil has shown this by winning the league this year, while also experiencing a period of depression.

“But the only way this can happen for others is if we are all comfortable speaking about mental health, so that talking about how we feel and asking for help doesn’t seem so 
daunting.”

Lennon, who was appointed as Hibs’ head coach in June last year, also earned the backing of Tory Lothian MSP and mental health spokesman Miles 
Briggs.

He said: “I pay tribute to Neil Lennon for speaking so openly and frankly about his mental health challenges and I hope many other public figures will follow his lead.

“High-profile people from the world of football, and sport more broadly, like Neil Lennon have an important and valuable role to play in reducing the stigma that surrounds talking about mental health and getting through to younger men in particular who may keep their problems bottled up and not seek help for mental ill health.

“I am delighted that Neil Lennon has chosen to speak out during Mental Health Awareness week 2017.

“With suicide still the biggest killer of young people under 35 in Scotland, it is really important that everyone feels they can talk openly about depression and mental illness and seek the help that is available.

“Seeking early support for mental health challenges can of course prevent these problems deteriorating.”