Inside Matters

Dr Amos: I'm glad the Premier League is talking about mental health

15 May 2024
Dr Amos Ogunkoya, Luton Town

Luton Town's club doctor on why opening up and asking questions is so important in looking after mental health

Related Articles
'If I've helped one person, it's been worthwhile'
Richarlison is inspiring players to discuss mental health
Evan's story: How Premier League Inspires has helped my mental health

The Premier League launched its latest Inside Matters campaign last week, encouraging fans to kick off a conversation about mental health.

One person who knows the importance of talking is Dr Amos Ogunkoya, the club doctor at Luton Town.

Dr Amos, who has spoken previously about managing depression, is using his role and life experiences to become a vocal advocate for mental health awareness, especially with football fans.

"If someone is struggling, my advice would be to speak out," he says. "It's often really difficult because when you have mental health issues, those issues can make you want to do things that make the situation worse, such as isolating yourself, not being social or not wanting to sleep. It's important to break that cycle.

"Football is about being social and being among people that you share a common interest with. You'd be surprised how many people are willing to listen.

"It's vital to get over that fear of telling someone you are struggling but people also need to ask the question."

Football has a unique ability to bring people together and to forge a sense of community. 

The Premier League Inside Matters campaign is using that power to raise mental health awareness and to gets fans to check-in with their family and friends as part of the matchday routine.

New research commissioned by the Premier League reveals that 84 per cent of fans believe football helps start conversations, with 82 per cent comfortable talking about their own mental health.

More than two thirds (68 per cent) say they would talk to the friends they see at football about their mental health, which rises to 83 per cent among young men aged 18-34.

"A football club means so much to its fans," Dr Amos says. "You meet a supporter and around the world, you instantly bond and you can talk, about your shared experiences, you have shared amazing moments.

"Things like winning a playoff final, you can see that they're talking about something that genuinely will live with them for the rest of their lives.

"Football fans are the hardest people to reach in the medical world. They're not the ones that come to the GP. So this is their safe space so I'm glad that the Premier League is coming out and talking about mental health."

As part of the campaign, the Premier League has teamed up with the Mental Health Foundation to provide questions and advice which support people with discussions on mental wellbeing.

Fans can use a Starting XI set of questions which can help kick off that conversation.

PL_INSIDE_MATTERS_MHF_XI_16-9-collab

"I take for granted that I'm quite comfortable looking someone in the eyes and asking them how they're getting on. But I wasn't always that way," Dr Amos says. "Having a crib sheet and knowing just how to turn a phrase is really useful.

"For example, saying, 'how's life treating you at the moment?' is such a good question because you can ask that so naturally. With open questions, you get to draw out open answers and you can have conversations from there.

"People you go to watch football with, people that you sit next to, end up being your mates. Sometimes I've hugged people I've never met before because we've we scored, we've shared the joyous moments. So you get the opportunity to speak in a way that isn't confrontational by sitting side by side."

For further mental health support, fans can head to: Get help | Mental Health Foundation

Lead image courtesy of Luton Town/PRiME Media Images

Latest Videos

More Videos