Mental health is a major resource for athletes in relation to their performance and development*.
Football, and sports in general, offers many opportunities to promote mental health and well-being, and to develop social and emotional skills. The positive effects of regular exercise on mental health and well-being are, for example, well established for both youth and adults.
There may, however, be a downside to the intense involvement in organised sport that is required to be successful in football academies. Players may for example, due to their early commitment to football, fail to explore other roles and contexts and as a result suffer from identity foreclosure and a narrow identity**. This type of identity can result in players over-investing in their role as aspiring professional footballers. The consequences that flow from this can include anxiety, depression, addictions, and other mental health issues.
*Schinke, R. J., Stambulova, N. B., Si, G., & Moore, Z. (2017). International society of sport psychology position stand: Athletes’ mental health, performance, and development. International journal of sport and exercise psychology, 1-18.
**Nesti, M., & Littlewood, M. (2011). Making your way in the game: Boundary situations in England’s professional football world. Critical essays in applied sport psychology, 233-250.