Clarke Carlisle's mental health message strikes note

Clarke Carlisle receives his award
Clarke Carlisle receives his award
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Former Clarets skipper Clarke Carlisle claimed the “British stiff upper lip” attitude to mental health and a “code of silence” around the issue have finally been broken.

The former Burnley defender and his wife, Carrie, accepted the Speaking Out Award at the 25th annual Virgin Money Giving Mind Media Awards, which honour the best portrayals of mental health in the media.

Clarke said: “Don’t be shackled, do not be burdened, do not be conditioned by what has gone before. The stiff British upper lip, it’s gone. That code of silence around what you’re thinking and what you’re feeling, it’s gone.”

The couple won the Speaking Out Award at the event hosted by Mind’s President Stephen Fry.

The award is given to people who have made a significant impact by sharing their own experiences of mental health problems.

Clarke, a former chairman of the Professional Footballers Association, who also played for QPR and Leeds, has a history of depression and was reported missing by his family last September, who feared for his life.

In a candid interview with Liverpool’s Radio City – which has won the Radio award this year – Clarke spoke about how he had been “strolling around Liverpool looking for a responsible way to die” until a passerby spoke to him and encouraged him to call his wife.

Carrie was interviewed alongside him, and was recognised for her bravery in recounting her experience of Clarke’s disappearance and how she helped her husband.

Carrie said: “People have said to me, how could he put you through that? And my husband said to me he felt like such a burden to me and his family. Let me be clear, my husband didn’t put me through anything. If you’re suffering, you’re not putting anyone through anything. The illness is putting us through something. And the illness is putting you and your family collectively through something.”

Clarke also spoke about his hopes for their children: “They’re not going to have an upbringing like we had. They’re going to be encouraged to be emotionally literate, emotionally resilient – they’re going to be taught that every emotion is bone fide and welcome in our house.”

This year’s entries were among the most diverse yet, covering issues from the struggle to get a diagnosis for depersonalisation disorder to living with hearing voices.