Blackburn's Tyrhys Dolan Is Raising Awareness For Mental Health After Best Friend's Tragic Passing
Blackburn Rovers youngster Tyrhys Dolan is raising awareness for mental health after the tragic passing of his best friend Jeremy Wisten.
Just two months after making his professional debut for the Championship side last year, he received the heart-wrenching news that his best pal had taken his own life.
The pair, who became friends after playing in the Manchester City academy together, had only recently celebrated Jeremy's 18th birthday.
Jeremy had been released by City and was struggling in his quest to find a club and become a professional footballer.
A heartbroken Tyrhys carried his coffin at his funeral in November and is determined to live Jeremy's legacy on and off the pitch.
"It's heartbreaking," he told SPORTbible.
"I miss him every single day and it's so hard because he's my best friend and he always will be."
"He's the type of person that nobody could ever forget; a great guy and everyone loved him. I think everyone who met him automatically loved him, he was that person who lit up a room.
"Every time I step on the pitch and everything I do, I do it to try and make him and his family proud."
Tyrhys is working with charity Go Again, helping kids or coaches who have come out of a club and need mental health assistance.
In 2014, the PFA estimated that 700 footballers are released from clubs every summer. Tyrhys himself had experienced that feeling.
Equally as concerning, the organisation revealed that they helped 500 players with mental health problems in 2020 alone.
A recent survey from ITV Sport, featuring 100 released players from 2019/20, saw 88% reveal they had experienced depression and anxiety, with 72% believing they did not receive sufficient support.
"I've always thought mental health is such a massive thing but with the lockdown and everything, it's been highlighted a lot more than it used to be on social media because people are definitely needing it," says Dolan.
"For me, especially being in football, I think a lot of footballers can really take a stand about mental health and really put it out there.
"They can come to us and we basically redirect them. I've been released myself and I know how it feels so if I can get on a call with a player who has been released and is maybe feeling a bit down, I can have a chat with them and it gives them the motivation to do well and progress.
"It's always a horrible feeling. I got told from Preston that I wasn't getting my professional contract but I didn't let it affect me too much.
"You have a bit where you are a bit gutted and you are a bit down but there isn't time to waste, you've got to get back on your bike and keep pedalling.
"It worked out well for me. I went to Blackburn and I'm thriving in the first-team. It just shows that if you do go through something it doesn't make you as a player, you can still go on and prove people wrong and dream big."
Mental health on the whole has become such a major consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns that have followed.
Without a routine or things to look forward to, it's left many feeling down, depressed and lonely.
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Mental health does not discriminate and Tyrhys is encouraging people to speak out if they are struggling, as well as calling for people to check in on their friends.
"People have waited until it's too late to really take a stand on it but I think it's something that's so important.
"Checking in on how people are, they might look happy every single day but behind closed doors you never actually know what people are going through. Me myself going through it and having friends like that.
"I'm trying to help as many people as possible. If I can even impact one person's life, I'll be so happy.
"In everyday life it might be where you're going through something and you find it hard to speak about to people.
"A lot of people struggle to speak to friends and family; they might be a little bit scared or embarrassed.
"I put numbers out there for helplines that people can reach out to because they might feel a little bit better talking to someone they don't actually know personally.
"I never used to speak too much when I was younger, I was a bit afraid to speak to my friends but once I did it honestly takes such a weight off your shoulders.
"You're not bothering anyone by telling them you're feeling a bit down, you're not putting pressure on them that they have to make you feel better.
"If I can encourage people to start doing that, it will go such a long way."
Tyrhys is "buzzing" with the fact that he is still able to play football in these tough times and says it was "tough" to stay motivated during that period without football.
But despite all the highs in football, the 19-year-old also wants people to know that there is immense pressure.
"It's funny with football because you can have a good game where you may have scored two goals and fans are absolutely loving you.
"Everyone's bound to have bad games; it's inevitable. A player could have a bad game the next week and supporters are slaughtering them.
"It's tough on players because there is so much pressure to go out there to perform on the pitch every week.
"Even as a little kid, when I was 10 or 11 years old, if I had a bad game it would genuinely get me down and there's no fans there to get on your back - you'd just be down within yourself.
"There is definitely such pressure when you're playing football. There's a lot of highs but there is a lot of lows that people don't really see too much."
Here's a list of the leading mental health helplines and services that are just a call away in the UK:
- Samaritans are there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and will talk to you about anything that's bothering you. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone), email [email protected]ans.org or visit some branches in person. You can also call the Welsh Language Line on 0300 123 3011 from 7pm to 11pm every day.
- The Mix take calls from under 25s on 0808 808 4994 from Sunday to Friday, 2pm to 11pm. You can request support by email using the form on The Mix website or using their crisis text messenger service.
- Papyrus HOPELINEUK is there for under 35s struggling with suicidal feelings, or those who are concerned about a young person who might be struggling. You can call them on 0800 068 4141 on weekdays from 9am to 10pm, on weekends from 2pm to 10pm, and on bank holidays from 2pm to 10pm. You can also email [email protected] or text 07786 209 697.
- The Nightline website allows students to see if their university or college offers a night-time listening service. Nightline phone operators are all students too.
- Switchboard is there for people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender and can be reached on 0300 330 0630 from 10am to 10pm every day. You can also email here or use their webchat service. Phone operators all identify as LGBT+.
- The Community Advice and Listening Line (C.A.L.L). is available for those who live in Wales and can be contacted on 0800 132 737, which is open 24/7. You can also text 'help' followed by a question to 81066.
Featured Image Credit: Instagram / Tyrhys Dolan & PA Images
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