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Diakite absent due to depression

QPR midfielder Samba Diakite has been granted leave of absence and has returned home to France while he deals with depression.

Sue Baker, the Director of Time to Change, which is the anti-stigma programme run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness says: "If Samba Diakite is experiencing depression as the reports say, then it is hugely encouraging to see a Premier League player with mental health problems being supported by his club.

"It shows how much the world of football has changed over recent years in its response to mental health.

“The PFA's Gordon Taylor says there is a support system for players, and will help to encourage other players to come forward now or in the future if they are struggling with mental health issues.”

Supportive response 

She added: “We'd like this kind of openness, and supportive response, to become uniform across all sports, at all levels.

"Players dealing with mental health issues should not have to hide it and should be treated with no less support and understanding than if they were off-the-field with a physical injury."

If the reports are true, Diakite is the latest in a growing number of footballers to publicly deal with mental health problems.

Earlier this year, former Norwich City player Darren Eadie spoke about his experiences of depression and is planning to set up a mental health clinic for players.

Eadie told Sky Sports News: "It's a sad time.  Obviously he (Diakite) needs to be back home and be close to his family, which is the most important thing.

The lowest ebb 

"Depression is the lowest ebb you can get to but there's a lot of stages before this, such as panic attacks and anxiety or low on confidence and it's about getting the guidance to help people out.

Eadie, who played for the Canaries between 1993 and 1999 continued by saying: "This is a huge problem in football. I've spoken to seven or eight players I've played with at Norwich and they've suffered.

"One of them got to the point where his wife found him with a rope around his neck." 

German goalkeeper Robert Enke took his own life in 2009, showing how tragic the consequences of mental health problems can be.

The game of football was sent into deep mourning last November, when Wales manager Gary Speed took his own life out of the blue.

Hidden away from the public limelight 

On the public side, Speed was showing no signs of suffering. He had appeared on the BBC magazine show Football Focus just 24 hours before his death.

The tragic cases of both Enke and Speed highlight the issues of depression in football and how serious a problem it is, even if it is hidden away from the public limelight. 

Time to Change, run by mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, is England's biggest campaign to end the stigma and discrimination that can stop people with mental health problems from speaking out about it and seeking the help they need.

The programme has worked with the Premier League and the FA to help encourage greater openness, support and understanding about mental health problems in the football world.

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