Former Norwich City football star takes mental health awareness fight to Westminster

The Norwich City Community Sports Foundation celebrates 20 years. Foundation ambassador, Darren Eadi

The Norwich City Community Sports Foundation celebrates 20 years. Foundation ambassador, Darren Eadie. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

Former Norwich City footballer Darren Eadie's has taken his fight to raise awareness of mental health issues and improve the help for elite athletes to Westminster.

Mr Eadie - who recently spoke out about his battle with depression - took part in a roundtable discussion on sport and mental health with charities, major sporting bodies and health minister Norman Lamb yesterday.

The former Canary has been at the forefront of initiatives, including the setting up of a Samaritans-style helpline for footballers with depression - but believes more needs to be done.

He said the discussion in parliament aimed to bring organisations together to work as a whole rather than in 'bits and pieces' in different areas.

He approached Mr Lamb, who has responsibility for mental health services, six months ago after helping to launch a councillor group with the footballers union, the PFA.


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Mr Eadie, who played more than 300 games for Norwich and Leicester and was part of the senior England squad, turned to the PFA for help after he started suffering from panic attacks and debilitating anxiety, when his career was cut short because of a knee injury. But there was none available.

He said: 'I was in an environment where everything was looked after - from getting a passport to buying a car. I came out of that and had to start thinking about what I was going to do next financially, what I was going to do mentally,'

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His mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer at the time.

He said: 'It was the combination of all of these things which came about which drove me down and made me seek the help I needed.'

'I realised there wasn't that much support there for footballers,' he added. 'I want to see something provided for footballers,' he said.

'At the moment the PFA is the biggest union in the country and it could do a lot more for its members.' Mr Lamb said it was great to get one of his football heroes into his department.

'He is a highly intelligent and articulate individual. What we want to do is use the power of sport to really tackle the stigma of mental health. 'If people, such as Darren Eadie who have gone through their own experiences, talk about it, it is much easier to deal with mental health as an issue.' He said that it was also important to ensure organisations - such as the PFA - did more to help. Do you have a story about mental health? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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