Clarke Carlisle, former English football player and chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association, revealed this past week that he has started a charity for dual diagnosis patients. According to the recently launched Twitter account, @CCforDD, The Clarke Carlisle Foundation for Dual Diagnosis hopes to “raise awareness levels about Dual Diagnosis and funds for a purpose built treatment facility.”
This announcement comes after Carlisle’s public statement about an attempt to take his own life in December 2014. The surrounding publicity about his experiences with depression and alcohol dependence has sparked a conversation about mental health in the media.
Recently, the former player has implemented many resources to provide support to the football community. He hosted a televised documentary on suicide among footballers, has written an article about well-being for the Professional Footballers’ Association website and has prompted the creation of a 24-hour helpline and clinic. His experience with lacking the support he needed has influenced a positive change in the football community where there has, historically, been a larger stigma regarding mental health.
The creation of The Clarke Carlisle Foundation for Dual Diagnosis has taken his advocacy efforts in a new direction. Dual diagnosis is when individuals have a mental illness, usually a mood disorder, along with substance or alcohol abuse. Though the two diagnoses are often comorbid, they require specific and separate treatment plans.
The foundation has just been publicized, so it has yet to gain much traction. However, in the brief period of time since the announcement via Twitter, the organization has had a large amount of media attention. It is a somewhat rare occurrence that a celebrity figure would admit to the struggles that Carlisle shared with the world. Rather than using his story as a way to expand his fan base, though, he has prompted a positive change.
This same action needs to take place in the United States where there is very little attention paid to mental health in athletics. Sure, professional athletes get paid exorbitant amounts of money to play what some would consider games, but their experiences with mental health and illness are just as prevalent and real as what the rest of society faces. Their struggles should not be belittled. We must take steps to provide them with more resources and support.