Inside Matters

Bruno: It's not a weakness to talk about mental health

16 May 2024
Frank Bruno, Inside Matters, West Ham United

Former heavyweight champion and West Ham United fan gives his support to the Premier League's Inside Matters campaign

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For boxing legend Frank Bruno MBE, raising mental health awareness is a subject close to his heart.

The former WBC heavyweight champion has had well-documented struggles with mental health and was diagnosed with having bipolar disorder in 2003. 

Since retiring, the 62-year-old is working hard to address the stigma attached to mental health and to help raise the standards of care given to those suffering with mental health issues.

And so he was keen to offer his support to the Premier League's Inside Matters campaign when he attended London Stadium to watch his beloved West Ham United take on Luton Town.

"Mental Health hits so many people in different ways," Bruno says. "People used to put mental health issues under the floorboards, but now they are speaking about it more and more and coming out with things, and that is really good. 

"Years ago, it was difficult to come out with things and talk about mental heath, but things are changing where people feel like they can really talk about issues, and it is much better."

This year's Inside Matters campaign is encouraging fans to check in on each other and talk about mental health.

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.

"When I left boxing, no one talked about it, and that wasn't helpful," Bruno says. "I had a trainer called George Francis and he told me that the biggest fight in your life is when you retire from boxing.

"He warned me that you have to face up to life outside the ring and all of the good and bad things that come with that.  He told me the biggest battle is when you get bored at home and you have nothing to do and he was right. 

"A lot of people just hold things in and beat themselves up. A lot of men in particular hold it in and it can take a lot of strength to open up."

Bruno, who fought the likes of Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis during a glittering career, set up The Frank Bruno Foundation in 2017 to provide a safe environment for young people with mental health issues.

And he knows how important it is to be there for someone who is struggling to get them the support they need.

"My advice to people is to take care of yourself and always watch what you and those around you are doing," he says.

"If you see certain people in your family acting strange, try to do them a favour and take them to the doctor.  It isn’t a weakness at all."

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

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