NEW County Mental Health Ambassador Kevin Ellison has spoken of the importance in having that first talk with someone.

New signing Ellison, speaking at today's pre-match press conference, said from experience that once that first talk was out of the way, the pressure lifted away.

"It was tough at first," he said.

"I went through it at 31 or 32.

"You’re worrying about opening up and getting judged."

Now he is hoping to use his own experiences with mental health to help others, both at the club and in the wider community.

"If I can contribute to helping others, especially our fans and people in the community, then that’s what I’m hoping to do," he said.

Ellison said that over the years he has had numerous players come to him to speak about mental health issues they were experiencing.

"I tell them I’m not a doctor or a therapist, but I can tell them what I went through and how I coped with it," he said.

"Some of them are worried and in fear of speaking out and getting judged.

"They’re young lads, only 24 or 25."

Ellison says that he still remembers one call he received from a person who had been touched by his efforts to promote mental health awareness.

"The one which stood out for me was a Grimsby fan who reached out to me on Twitter a few years back," he said.

"On Boxing Day a few years ago we’d (Morecambe) lost against Tranmere and I was on my way home.

"He messaged me on the way home saying ‘Kev, I just wanted to say thanks. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be here today’.

"To this day I still get goosebumps.

"It was an unbelievable feeling to know I’ve helped him."


He said that professional footballers, while some may believe otherwise, are just like everyone else in terms of mental health.

"We’re all human, we’re not robots," he said.

"We still have feelings, just because we play football we’re not immune to an illness which affects hundreds of thousands of people daily.

"Somewhere along the line we may come under some bad times. It’s about how we handle that and being in the best position mentally to try and cope."

However, he said that times were changing. Compared to ten years ago, he said, it was much more acceptable to speak about suffering with your mental health.

However, he said: "There is still a stigma around it, more needs to be done."

Ellison said that, now more than ever, people needed to be made aware that it was ok to seek help if they were struggling.

"The majority of the UK, under this current climate, we’re all feeling a bit of pressure because we don’t know what’s going to happen moving forward," he said.

"During the summer I was worried that I was going to be unemployed and unable to provide for my two kids.

"Clubs were being financially affected and deciding to go more with youth. I was thinking ‘I’m 41, what chance have I got of getting a contract?’

"Your minds starts running away with things.

"I’m fortunate to get employed again by a football club. Some people aren’t so lucky to have a job at the minute. It’s tough for the whole of the UK."