Could football be the key to tackling mental health?

Could football be the key to tackling mental health?


Published August 2019

Football. As they say, it’s more than just a game – and as new research reveals, it could even be essential to tackling mental health in the UK. So how does the beautiful game – and sports in general – help those who might be struggling? Our Business Barometer is here to set the score straight.New research from Mercedes-Benz Vans has revealed one in three UK van drivers suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the winter months. With this in mind, we’ve teamed up with former Liverpool and England footballer, Chris Kirkland, to raise awareness of SAD before the clocks go back on Sunday 27th October.

Switching off when you’re always on

In modern workplaces, our ‘always on’ culture is playing a key role in the number of people who suffer from anxiety (24%), depression (21%) and stress (23%), even when outside of work. In fact, the average time in which people are ‘uncontactable’ is just seven hours a week – with a worrying 16% saying that they are alert to work pressures 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Pro-footballer Jason McAteer is no stranger to the reality of stress and anxiety in the workplace. Having spoken openly about his struggles with mental health and depression, McAteer laid his story bare in last year’s documentary ‘Through the Storm’, which was made in conjunction with his former club, Liverpool. At his darkest points, McAteer described the feeling of ‘spiralling out of control’, and he knows all too well the importance of having an outlet.

But what part does sport play in helping men across the nation to tackle their mental health struggles? Our recent study looked deeper.

Sporting stress relief

Our previous Business Barometer report showed that almost a quarter (23%) of UK van drivers haven’t been to see their GPs at all in the last year. This means that mental issues, as well as physical, could be going unreported and unmanaged. And as we continue to highlight the importance of self-care awareness in the industry, we wanted to examine the link between mental health and one of the community’s most popular hobbies – sports.

Research commissioned by Mercedes-Benz Vans has found that, for male van drivers, watching and playing sport are two of the key activities that help them to switch off , avoid anxiety and combat stress and depression – both in and out of work. 44% said that sport is their key outlet when trying to wind down, and whether they’re watching or participating, football, rugby, tennis and golf were reported as the most popular options.

Over a quarter (26%) said that getting their kits on and joining in the game plays a vital role too.With nearly half (47%) of those surveyed saying that they struggle to wind down even once their working day is done, the importance of sporting stress relief is clear to see.



Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Barometer

The Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Barometer is a nationwide quarterly survey of businesses large and samll, created to help us understand the economic landscape and discover what van owners and drivers need to keep their business moving. For more information visit:

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