Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS TIMES to 80360 or email us
Bath rugby star opens up over battle with depression
BATH prop Duncan Bell has revealed that teammate David Flatman was instrumental in his decision to go public about his battle with depression.
Tighthead Bell, 37, revealed his long-standing fight with the illness at the same time as announcing his retirement from the game earlier this week.
The five-times capped England player kept his troubles private from his club and teammates, confiding only in fellow front rower Flatman, who urged him to open up about the condition.
Bell told the Wiltshire Times: “I was going to have a bog-standard retirement announcement, but David Flatman was the only person at the club I talked to about it (depression) and he said you would be perfect to tell people about it and could help other people and sportsmen in the same situation.
“I knew that if I retired from the game and had not done this, I would have a massive regret knowing I didn’t try to help other people.
“I’m proud of it I suppose. This is what happened in my life but there is light at the end of the tunnel and things can get better.’’
He added: “My intention was to highlight it and raise awareness. I hope it’s a sounding board for other people, not just people in rugby. It can affect anyone.
“I knew I was opening myself up for intrusion and scrutiny. It’s such a taboo subject and you don’t often have professional sportsmen talking about it.’’
Bell, who has made more than 200 appearances for Bath, scoring eight tries, has helped the Rugby Players Association (RPA) to produce a video for use in their mental health seminars.
He added: “The RPA have produced this programme designed for people with addictions and depression. Having been through that, I know it’s a fantastic thing that they are doing. No one has to suffer in silence.
“I’m very passionate about it. I’m someone in the same position that can offer advice to anyone and I’d like to be able do stay involved.’’ Bell, who will run his business Bell Financial Services after his retirement at the end of the season, broke the news of his illness to his teammates earlier this week.
“Having to tell the players (on Monday) was a tough thing to do. For them to find out what I had gone through was a shock because they are an extended family.
“There was plenty of banter – there were a lot of holes to run through in the game of touch rugby at training!
“But it’s been very positive from the boys. I was not sure what the reaction would be but I’m glad I’ve done it, they’ve been very supportive.’’
MORE BATH RUGBY NEWS, REACTION & PICTURES IN FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES AND AT WILTSHIRETIMES.CO.UK/SPORT