Soccer AM legend Fenners bravely opens up on mental health battle and therapy

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John Fendley has bravely spoken about his personal battle with mental health issues and depression for the first time ahead of the return of Soccer AM.

The presenter of the Sky Sports weekend football show has openly discussed his mental health battle which stretches back to his teenage years and how he has been able to deal with it.

Brought on by the death of his father when he was just 16, Fendley did not receive any counselling at the time but has revealed that he began therapy last year as he began to come to terms with his own mental health.

Speaking to Paninaro, Fenners as he is known by fans of Soccer AM explained why he has chosen to talk now: "It's something I've wanted to talk about for a while but didn't want to be one of those people who go 'I'm going to use my platform to do better'… there is a fine line between capitalising on something that's deemed to be of the moment.

"Mental health is not of the moment, but it is the right time, because everyone is becoming more accepting and understanding."

Fenners believes that his three daughters were one of the main barriers that had previously prevented him from public discussing his mental health but that now is the time to do so.

"It is never going away so I figured I need to talk about it, for me as much as anyone."

Fendley, who has co-presented Soccer AM since 2015 having previously been a producer for 10 years between 1997 and 2007, witnessed his parents struggle with their own mental health as a child.

"Both my mum and dad suffered from mental health issues and actually met in a psychiatric hospital. They were in and out of hospital sporadically throughout my childhood."

His father sadly took his own life when John was just 16 and he did not receive counselling and ultimately failed his school exams.

He cannot remember whether he later took antidepressants before he began to feel himself once again but did begin Cognitive Behavioural Therapy last year prior to the start of lockdown.

For many with mental health worries, lockdown was a tough period but Fendley has revealed that at first he coped well.

"For me it was alright. I am better during the summer… When it got it November I started to worry about winter… I do believe seasons affect mental health."

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Social media can often have a negative impact on mental health but can also be a positive for some and Fenners' Lifejacket Instagram account that he uses to post clothing and sell items has allowed him to connect with fans.

"I want to us Lifejacket to help. I'd like to organise events like 'An Evening with…' people I love and admire, such as Paul Heaton, Stephen Graham, and we'd talk about jackets, clothes, trainers, music and football as well as men's mental health."

Fenners is set to begin his seventh season presenting Soccer AM this weekend and will once again appear alongside co-host Jimmy Bullard on Sky Sports this Saturday morning.

Get your hands on your club's special edition 2021/22 annual. Find out more here.

  • Sky
  • Premier League

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