When he stopped playing, however, he found it difficult to make the transition from playing to retirement.
McAteer knows the value of opening up to those closest around him about mental health issues but he is also aware, from his own experience, that there are times when specialist guidance is needed.
"I'd gone past the point where friends and family were the people who were going to help me out and I needed to go and see someone in a more professional environment," he says.
"When I came out of it, I had all the tools and the ability to notice the warning signs when things got a little bit too much, and I was able to cope with it."
That extra step may feel unnecessary for a lot of people in their own lives.
But, during the coronavirus pandemic, it is important to open up and share any feelings of isolation and anxiety with someone we trust, whoever that may be.
"The beginning of solving the problem is when you go and speak to someone," says McAteer.
McAteer was speaking as part of the Premier League’s Heads Up campaign in February 2020, dedicated to raising awareness and encouraging conversation around mental health.