Mental health in football: Kilmarnock's Kris Boyd urges players to speak about problems

Media playback is not supported on this device

Kris Boyd reflects on his brother's tragic death

Kilmarnock's Kris Boyd has urged fellow players to speak up about mental health problems and is preparing to set up his own foundation to help sufferers.

Nearly two thirds of footballers in Scotland have experienced mental health problems or know a team-mate who has, according to PFA Scotland figures.

Boyd's younger brother, Scott, took his own life last year.

"I am in the process of setting up my own foundation," said the 33-year-old former Rangers and Scotland striker.

"If the foundation, once it is up and running, helps one person then it's a success.

"If it saves one person from what myself and my family had to go through with my wee brother, it is well worth it."

Boyd was speaking as the players' union revealed, during Mental Health Awareness Week, that it had set up a dedicated service to tackle the issue and also launched a mobile app to make it easier for players to get help.

Neil Lennon celebrates winning the Championship with Hibernian
Neil Lennon says he had a bout of depression while leading Hibs to the Championship title

Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon, who has been candid about his own mental health, has also revealed that he battled a fresh bout of depression while leading his side to the Scottish Championship title this season.

It also follows news that Everton winger Aaron Lennon had last week been detained under the Mental Health Act, with his club saying he was suffering from a stress-related illness.

Boyd suggested that mental health problems were a "massive" problem for football.

He pointed out that they not only affected players who might be discarded by clubs early in their teens but also those who find it difficult to adjust to the end of long careers.

Injuries "can take you into a dark place" and there are also the many pressures that come with "trying to live the footballer lifestyle" while coping in dressing-rooms filled with "bravado".

"The biggest struggle is to speak and don't be ashamed," Boyd told BBC Scotland.

"It is an illness. There is no doubt about it.

"We have this stigma about mental health, that we can't speak about it.

"Hopefully, by raising awareness, more people can come forward."

Kris Boyd (right) in action for Nottingham Forest
Boyd (right) was on loan to Nottingham Forest from Middlesbrough

Boyd believes that his tradesman joiner brother, who was 27, might still be here if he had sought help.

"We've had plenty of discussions as a family about what you could have done, but it all comes back to the one thing - until my wee brother wanted to help himself there's nothing you can do and that's why I'm saying - you need to open up," he said.

"Could he have been still here today? Yes. he could have been, if only he had opened up."

Boyd admitted that his footballer lifestyle caused problems during his spells away from home with Middlesbrough, Eskisehirspor and Portland Timbers.

"It was my decision to go to England, to go to Turkey, to go to America, but in reality my wife stayed here with my kids," he added.

"It wasn't a problem to me, because I covered it up playing football, but the Mrs was struggling at home with the kids.

"Yes, you get paid X amount, but it doesn't take away from the fact I wasn't in the house and about much when they were younger.

"I put a lot of onus on my wife and my wife's family to bring up my kids, which can be difficult."

Top Stories