Vital services saved my life, says PFA representative who lost mum to suicide
FORMER Wales international footballer Jason Brown revealed yesterday that being abused as a child and his mother’s suicide led to his depression.
The Professional Footballers Association (PFA) representative was speaking in a session on mental health at the Disabled Workers” Conference when he spoke publicly for the first time on how a number of incidents had affected his mental health.
Mr Brown spoke out after delegates shared experiences of how rape and child abuse had impacted on their long-term mental well-being.
He said he had covered up his depression as a professional footballer and praised the vital mental health services the PFA provides, including round-the-clock counselling, for saving his life.
Former Blackburn Rovers player Mr Brown told delegates: “I was abused as a child. This is the first time I have spoken in public about it. I chose to block it out. My mum committed suicide. She hung herself.
“As a player and athlete I can tell you who I am. But I suffered racism.
“I blocked it out. I saw a team mate drown in front of me. I chose to block it out.”
PFA head of player welfare Michael Bennett explained how he encountered “issues of self-worth and self-identity” shortly after signing as a professional footballer for Charlton Athletic at the age of 16.
He now works for the PFA developing support services for players.
The PFA is working to tackle the stigma of mental health issues, particularly stress and depression within the game, he said.
And Mr Brown admitted: “The amount of pressure, when if you didn’t stay up it would cost hundreds of millions of pounds.
“We need to take away [the] stigma [of depression]. We’re told: ‘Just get on with it, you’re paid lots of money.’ But money doesn’t cover it.
“Now I am back to being that eight-year-old boy. I don’t know who Jason Brown is.
“I am in the public eye and it’s my turn to speak out about it. I am not embarrassed to say I’ve had depression.
“I am working with players and saying to them it’s OK to have depression. We need to work together to end the stigma.”