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The Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland (PFAI) and the Irish Rugby Union Players' Association (IRUPA) announced their joint partnership with the Lean on Me campaign to collectively help to break down the stigma that remains around depression and mental health in sport.  The campaign is also supported by Aware, European Depression Association, World Federation of Mental Health, and Lundbeck Ireland.


General secretary of the PFAI Stephen McGuinness said: ‘I have huge respect for the sports people who have spoken publicly about their struggles recently. Unfortunately there is a stigma around depression and players are reluctant to come forward and seek help for any problems they might be having, often because they feel it might show a weakness that will affect their selection or career. Just as your team helps you succeed on the pitch, they are also there to help off the pitch.’


‘The PFAI have partnered with the Lean on Me campaign to try and encourage our members and the wider public, to open up and talk to someone if they think they might be grappling with depression.’


The Lean on Me campaign has conducted a survey, 250 people actively involved in sport were questioned. Almost half (45%) felt they had experienced symptoms of depression in the past and 69% said that encouragement from friends or family would persuade them to seek help if they were experiencing symptoms of depression.


76% of respondents, who claimed to have experienced symptoms of depression in the past, either agreed or strongly agreed that there is a social stigma surrounding depression.


63% of participants in the survey said that media coverage of high profile sports stars experiencing depression made them more sympathetic towards issues of mental health and depression. 


‘We are delighted to receive the support of the PFAI and IRUPA for the Lean on Me campaign.  Depression affects 1 in 10 of all people in Ireland and that includes the large number of people that participate in sport.’


For more information about the Lean on Me campaign, please click on the following links: