Neil Lennon hails work being done to tackle mental health in sport

Neil Lennon promotes the SPFL Trust Golf Day. Pic: Neil Hanna
Neil Lennon promotes the SPFL Trust Golf Day. Pic: Neil Hanna
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Hibs boss Neil Lennon has welcomed the fact that sport is taking a far more progressive approach to mental health, insisting that while the problem appears to be more prevalent today, it has always been there.

Lennon has made no secrets of his own such issues and freely admits it’s a subject which he is very passionate about.

Unveiled as an ambassador for the SPFL Trust’s charity golf day in May, he said: “Over the past year you’ve seen isolated incidents of a lot of high-profile players – Aaron Lennon, Steven Caulker, Clark Carlisle. So it’s becoming more prevalent in this day and age.

“It doesn’t mean it didn’t go on before because I am sure it did. But now sport in general is taking a far more aggressive approach to mental health. And I think it is great, it is very, very important.

“If you see the press release that came out today, you’ll see that 64 per cent of clubs asked had experienced problems with people. I think it’s always been there, it’s just that people have been reluctant to come forward.

“It’s not a test of your masculinity, it’s a test of your health. So I’m very pleased that Scottish football are doing something positive about that.”

Lennon admitted players were not only reluctant to come forward but might even not know what was happening to them.

He said: “It’s a gradual decline in your mental health, even sometimes your physical health.

“You have to take every individual episode on an individual basis because it can manifest itself in many, many ways.

“There are so many different aspects to the condition. It is important they come forward when they realise they are off kilter and there’s something affecting them.

“For me, it affected my form, there’s not question of that. It affected my enjoyment of life, taste of food, I became very introverted. That is my own condition or way of dealing with it, the way it manifested itself. For other people it can get to the stage where they feel suicidal and we certainly don’t want that.”

Neil Lennon was speaking to promote the SPFL Trust Golf Day 2018 in partnership with The Chris Mitchell Foundation which will take place at The Carrick on May 23. All funds raised will go towards the provision of Mental Health First Aid Training for Scottish football clubs. Costing £199 per head, bookings can be made via 0141 620 4162 or golfday@splfltrust.org.uk