FOLLOWING the fortunes of Southend United, you would think I’m used to regularly tackling tough topics.

But trying to explain mental health issues still remains really rather difficult for me.

Every time I put together a piece like this I wonder if it’s the right thing to do and will regularly rewrite several lines with worry.

However, as someone who has helped set up a mental health support group in Southend as well as becoming a trustee for SECE Mind, I’m forever stressing the need to speak out if you’re struggling.

And I’d feel hypocritical if I did not do likewise on World Mental Health Day.

I’m someone who suffers with bad depression and, I’ll be honest, I have struggled quite badly in recent times.

Those dark days make the simplest tasks seem virtually impossible and even leaving the house suddenly feels as daunting as running a marathon.

I’m certainly not looking for attention or sympathy here but since speaking out about my own experiences it has shocked me just how many other people are suffering.

And it’s made me realise just how much more needs to be surrounding mental health.

Things are slowly heading in the right direction but we all have our part to play.

First of all, if you are struggling do not hide away because it is nothing to be ashamed of.

It took me quite a while to get my head round that and I would probably be the last person people would expect to be struggling.

If I’ve plucked up the courage to make it on a night out, I’ll be the silly one making the jokes and looking to make people laugh.

But, both before and after, I’d be suffering with an all encompassing feeling of inadequacy and that leads me on to what else we can do.

Be nice!

So many times I flick through my phone while already feeling low, only to be confronted by needless social media abuse which suddenly intensifies the self-hate.

It is an ongoing battle where that is concerned and I’ll be turning my phone off after posting this story fearful for the reaction it might receive.

But, deep down, I also realise now that there should be no stigma attached to those currently suffering from mental health issues. 

And it should be spoken about continually, not just today.