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Livingston Captain, Michael Devlin, and Rangers star Tess Middag have both thrown their backing behind Mental Health Awareness Week, urging fellow members to prioritise managing their own mental health and wellbeing.

Devlin, who is currently Chair of PFA Scotland’s Management Committee, reflected on his own personal experiences as a player to emphasise the significance of talking about his emotions.

“I think it took probably a long time to realise that I had to take more care of my mental health. It probably a bit of a dip in my mental health to understand the importance of it.

From then on in, I knew I had to factor self-care into my daily and weekly routines, you know, simple care type things that I ask of myself and mostly away from football.

I think giving myself a bit of time away from the intensity of it all and changing scenery, things like that challenge my head a little bit differently to, to the day in, day out of football are always good and always give me the bit of motivation.”

Devlin has notably suffered some serious injuries, which ultimately left him questioning his livelihood. During this time, he challenged himself on what other ways he could identify with himself.

“Whilst I was long-term injured at Aberdeen, I became really good at getting in every day and put a bit of a mask on and, and trying to pretend that everything was okay. I wanted to be the person for other people that they expected me to be. However, when I got home, I felt a real crash and, and really struggled – I really struggled on match days watching the team.

I became so aware of how isolated and how far away from that I felt and realised that that was starting to take a toll on me, mentally.

I knew that something was right, and it took me a long time to put my finger on what that was. After having a conversation with some of the medical staff and the club doctor up there, it helped me massively, and started to get me back to the right track.”


The defender highlights how important he found staying occupied in his time away from the training ground and is currently undergoing studies in counselling, through the support of PFA Scotland’s education grants.

“Through my time with the national team, I connected with one of the coaches, Steven Reid,  who was an ex-player and had his own challenges. And having that kinda relatability really, really helped me. Speaking to someone who understood what I was going through and was able to offer a bit of advice and support at that time.

One of the things he said was, ‘what else are you doing away from football? To try and stimulate the brain and give yourself a plan’ and probably what I realised was when football wasn’t going the way I wanted it to go, did I have something else? What else do I can identify as?

Football was everything but I recognised I needed to do more. Through starting to pursue my studies, which I’ve been able to do through the union and using the education grants that are there, I was able to start trying different, different aspects of education and that really, really helped me.”

I was able to use that as a distraction from what was going on day to day with my injuries. I was trying to get back fit but studying allowed me to start to see that there was other things other than football. And there was a plan there as to where I’m going.”

Similarly to Devlin, Tess Middag has also recognised the significance of staying occupied and putting mental fitness first during long-term injury.

“It’s just as important to keep your mental wellbeing in check, as well as your physical fitness. For me, a key thing is staying occupied. I feel better when I have a focus away from football.

I know how important this is after two ACL injuries. I know I’ve got the best job in the world as a professional footballer, but I also want to use this time to educate myself, connect with new people and learn new things.

Being on the management committee for PFA Scotland, I would encourage all players to have a think about how they’re supporting their mental health and wellbeing – it should be a priority for us all.”

Putting an emphasis on mental health is essential for all of us and it aids the overall well-being, performance, and relationships. By addressing mental health concerns proactively, we can all enhance our personal and professional development.

Through #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, we can all hopefully feel more confident to start conversations, challenge stigma, and educate one another about mental health issues.

Resources are available through PFA Scotland, clubs as well as local and national organisations. Find out more about our mental health support online.


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