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On 10 November 2009, German goalkeeper Robert Enke drove around in his car for the whole day before committing suicide: the tragic consequence of a long struggle with depression. Since Enke's well-documented death, awareness of mental health has been growing in professional football, as well as in other sports.

FIFPro plays its part in raising awareness of mental health problems among professional footballers, as do various of its member unions worldwide.

In April this year, FIFPro, the World Players' Union, published results of an international preliminary study on mental health conducted by FIFPro's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vincent Gouttebarge. FIFPro's study, the first of its kind on a global scale, showed that 26 % of active professional footballers suffer from depression/anxiety symptoms, compared to 39 % of retired players.

Besides exploration of the rate of players suffering from symptoms related to mental illness, the FIFPro study also sought an insight into what factors (stressors) might play a role in the incidence of these health conditions. Dr. Gouttebarge found that mental illness symptoms in professional football were associated with recently-occurring life events and with low social support.

Following this successful preliminary study, FIFPro has initiated a second international study in several countries across four continents. As mentioned by Dr. Gouttebarge, the expectations of such a study are high: "I believe that this second study is going to be a great international success because it is based on a stronger research design and it involves more professional footballers - nearly 1,000 current and retired players."

The first results of the second study are expected to be available at the beginning of 2015.

Also read: Factors contributing to mental illness in professional footballFactors contributing to mental illness in professional football