Ipswich: Ex-Town striker Brazil is branded insensitive for depression comments

A mental health charity has criticised sports pundit Alan Brazil for being insensitive after he doubted whether depression was an illness and claimed people should “just get on with it”.

In comments broadcast on TalkSPORT Radio on Friday morning, the former Ipswich Town striker said he agreed with sports journalist Rob Shepherd, who said that sportsmen were using “the depression word far too cheaply”.

Brazil has come under fire for comments made during a discussion with Shepherd and co-presenter Ronnie Irani over Michael Yardy’s decision to withdraw from the cricket World Cup due to depression.

Simone Wakelin, Suffolk Mental Heath’s clinical leader for Improving Access to Psychological therapy (IAPT), told the Evening Star that she believed Mr Brazil was not seeing the “wider perspective”.

During the discussion, he says: “If I’m being honest, I don’t understand the illness of depression and I understand where Rob is coming from.”

He adds: “Rob basically was saying that people who are depressive are weak and in a way, and I am going to get slaughtered for this – but in a way, people keep telling me it’s an illness and we spoke to psychologists.

“But I don’t know, Ronnie, I’m old school and I’m not arguing with a professor and I’m not arguing with Mr Michael Yardy, but sometimes in life you roll your sleeves up.”

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The former Scotland international later adds the lines “roll your sleeves up and just get on with it” and “if it’s an illness, then fine it is. If it is, then I don’t know about it.”

Miss Wakelin said: “One in four people suffer from mental ill health in their lifetime and depression is becoming more common with the stresses and strains of life.

“I think that he has made a very insensitive comment because depression is quite obviously a mental health problem and it has been considered so for many years.

“I would imagine that anyone suffering with depression and their family members would be angry with his comments.”

The comments of Shepherd and Brazil also came under fire from Irani, who blasted the pair for being “unsympathetic” and “thoughtless”.

A spokeswoman for talkSPORT said: “We understand that depression is a very serious matter that touches a lot of people.

“Alan Brazil’s viewpoint is not reflected by the station as a whole, and it was not broadcast in isolation but as part of a wider discussion with his co-presenter Ronnie Irani, who argued fervently for the opposing opinion.

“There is a great deal of misunderstanding about depression, and talkSPORT has helped to bring the problem into the open and educate listeners.”

She said that on Monday night, football analyst Stan Collymore, spoke openly about his own struggle with the illness during an evening show.

n What do you think about Alan Brazil’s comments on depression? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk