Robbie Williams believes the conversation around mental health has changed for the better, and that football has an important role to play in continuing to spread the message.
The singing sensation recently held a press conference at his hometown club, Port Vale - where he will perform a special stadium show on 20 June 2020 - to speak about his love for the Sky Bet League Two club, highly anticipated return to the city of Stoke-on-Trent and successful Christmas album, among other topics.
Williams was also asked about the importance of raising awareness around mental health, something championed by the EFL alongside its official charity partner, Mind.
Today marked the launch of Mind's latest campaign, 'Have Your Mate's Back', and Williams' message explains how others helped him when he was affected by mental health.
“I think it’s vitally important to spread this message through the power of football, and it’s a message which is really coming across too. But it’s not just important in football, it’s important in everyone’s job, life and industry," he said.
"There should be a massive focus on people’s mental health because it’s been the secret in a lot of people’s lives that has led to things getting worse for them. I’m proud to be living in a day and age when it is on the tip of people’s tongues, because it didn’t used to be, it used to be very different.
"I used to feel shamed by people in the media industry, because the general feeling about mental health was ‘just pull your socks up’. That makes you feel smaller, it makes you shrink, but now we’re going in the right direction. It seems to be a buzzword now, and I’m so thankful that it is.
“Is my mental health a problem for me right now? No. Do I do things to guard against it being a problem for me? Yes. The way I see it is this: I’m like a bottle of water and at the bottom is this silt which will always be there. If I do anything that’s damaging to me, the silt rises and becomes my mind and my life. Am I suffering with mental health right now? No. Did I suffer previously? Yes, I did.
“I had beautiful people around me to help me; I placed myself with those beautiful people. I always knew the people that I shouldn’t be around but was I had to be around them for whatever reason. There was a lesson I needed to learn at that time, and then I found the beautiful people, who’d had their own difficulties with mental health themselves but knew how to get out of it.
"The weird thing about mental health is you often don’t know you’ve got it, because you’re in it and don’t realise something is wrong. You’re in a prison in your own head. The first step is realising something is wrong, then knowing something is wrong and then doing something about it. There are places to go to, places to look up for help, and it’s about keeping it simple. If you do the things suggested, you will get better.”
Images courtesy of Gerard Austin and Port Vale Football Club