Support network helped Huntly boss Allan Hale overcome depression
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THIS month saw Men's Health Week take place in the UK, and one man who knows the importance of talking about mental health difficulties is former Keith Football Club manager Allan Hale.
Particularly in these difficult times of people left feeling isolated by the Covid-19 lockdown, mental health groups and charities are encouraging men to speak about their feelings.
It's a message that Allan is eager to get across to the male population, particularly to the typically stubborn ones who might feel they can deal with issues in their life by themselves but often end up struggling without having someone to share their problems with.
He found himself suffering from depression in recent years, but made the right decision to seek help and with a strong network of support around him now, he is now "in a great place".
His recovery has allowed him to return to the sport he loves, and he recently became manager at Huntly FC.
Allan became on of Highland League football's youngest-ever managers in 2015 when he was appointed boss at Keith.
After two years in the job, he went back to playing for his local team in Buchan but explains how he then had to take time away from sport.
"I was suffering from depression so I actually took a period away just to focus on myself and my family and get healthy there," he said.
"This was two-and-a-half years ago. I was in a really dark place at the time, but probably kept things to myself for too long.
"But I got to a point where it just came to a head, and you just need to deal with it head-on.
"I got all the help and support that I needed through my GP, my therapist and family and I’m thankful I had such a good support network around me.
"I’m in a great place now, really healthy and in a positive mindset and it won’t be affecting things, that’s for sure.
"It’s something I can deal with a lot better now than what I did in the past. I still have that strong network around me any time that I need it and that is important."
The Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) have highlighted the current situation with coronavirus is causing many people to feel worried and scared, but help is always at hand.
"Right now it may be harder to do the things you usually do to keep well, but there are things you can do to look after your mental wellbeing during this time," said a spokesperson for the charity.
They highlight some advice from the World Health Organisation for coping with stress surrounding coronavirus, including if you need to self-isolate.
Their message is a clear one - connect with people.
"While you may not be able to have physical contact with your loved ones, there are ways you can keep communicating: even a text, phone call or video chat could make a big difference."
Allan Hale has not only recovered from his difficulties, but he wants to speak out and encourage other men to reach out for help.
"It is something that is quite common nowadays and more so with Covid, people being furloughed or being paid off from their work or not having that certainty of when or if they are going to go back, and the strain that can put on their own personal circumstances.
"Since it became known about myself, I don’t hide behind it, that’s for sure.
"I personally feel the more people who do talk about it, it will help others within a similar position come forward and get the help and support they need to get to a better place."
Allan is grateful for his opportunity to return to football management at Huntly after assuring club officials that he was in a far better place and his past difficulties would not affect his current position in any way.
"It's a very relevant subject at the moment and if my words were read by someone struggling and they found them of significance and importance to take the first step to a better place then I’d absolutely love that," he said.
Visit www.menshealthforum.org.uk/mhw more more information on Men's Health Week.