Arthur Masuaku: Don’t be afraid to talk


Whoever you are, whichever day it is, whatever the challenge: tackle it by talking.

With one in six people estimated to have experienced a common mental health problem in the past week, that is the message which West Ham United defender Arthur Masuaku wants to deliver on World Mental Health Day 2020.

In a year of great difficulty for many of us, talking has never been more important. 

Masuaku reasons that, while we are all human beings and we can all be affected by the world around us, we are also all capable of helping one another – and that starts with a conversation.

He explained: “It’s very important for everyone to talk, because when you speak to someone you don’t know if, in their life, they are well or not. 

“It’s very important to speak about mental health, so that people can feel free to talk about it. Some people you talk with, it goes unnoticed, so it’s good to be able to talk.

“In my opinion, it’s about not being afraid to talk. It can affect everyone, and the more you talk and give information, the better you will feel and the more other people can help you.”

West Ham United are committed to ensuring players and staff receive all the support they need.

Everyone is a human being, so you can still have every sort of problem. Mental health can affect everyone

Arthur Masuaku

With hundreds of players and dozens of coaches working from primary school age-groups up to the first team in the highly-pressured environment of the Premier League, while football may be a sport, mental health issues do not discriminate.

“Even if you have money or seem to be enjoying football, you can still have issues in your life,” Masuaku expanded. 

“Even if we are football players, we are just us. Everyone is a human being, so you can still have every sort of problem. Mental health can affect everyone.”

Every player gets comprehensive care from our medical department, and have instant and continued access to psychologists when needed.

Last year, the Club launched an Employee Assistance Programme to help employees deal with personal problems that might adversely impact their work performance, health and wellbeing. The programme generally includes assessment, short-term counselling and referral services for both staff and their immediate family.

West Ham United also has ten members of staff who have successfully completed a nationally recognised qualification as Mental Health First Aiders. These employees offer initial relief by being a listening ear and signposting to specialise and relevant services for needed ongoing and longer-term support.

Masuaku has taken the initiative in providing such support, working in conjunction with West Ham United Foundation to reach out to Any Old Irons, a programme led by the Foundation on behalf of the Club. 

Any Old Irons was created in 2015 in a bid to tackle social isolation and loneliness among older people in the east London and Essex area, which has been a particular focus for the Club during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Every time I’ve got to see Any Old Irons, I was glad to support them,” he smiled.

“It’s just nice to be able to talk with people. I enjoy it. If I could go back, I would go back with pleasure.”

Find out more about World Mental Health Day on the Mental Health Foundation’s website.