(Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly credited the creation of the YAPA to Chris Kirkland. In actuality, the CEO and founder of YAPA is Jack Knowles. The body of the article has been changed to reflect this.)
One of the great things about progress is seeing systems open up to accommodate and acknowledge shortcomings. In football, especially given the financial stakes, we’ve seen a rapid rise in investment and innovation surrounding sports medicine. Often, athletes are privy to a level of care that is simply impossible to obtain for the average person.
However, an area of health that has lagged in sport - mimicking the ways in which society in general has also been slow to accept working around it - is that of mental health. One of my memories of Liverpool’s glorious 2013-2014 season is how Brendan Rodgers began having a therapist visit the club, with Steven Gerrard speaking candidly about his struggles with on-pitch anxiety.
These were revelations in the area of sport, where images of masculinity being incompatible with mental health struggles converge with a culture that is already incentivized to downplay physical injury, let alone an injury cannot be assessed with a visible limp or gash. It was courageous of Stevie to speak so openly and revelatory in that it made plain just how ill prepared the Premier League in general was to deal with mental health issues among players and coaches.
This story, then, from the official site, is a bit of good news on that front. It appears that Chris Kirkland, a former goalkeeper for LFC and once named caretaker manager for LFC Women after Neal Redfearn’s resignation, has helped in creating a social media platform via an app for people who are struggling with mental health problems. The app, titled YAPA, aims at breaking the silos that often force people struggling with issues like depression from finding help.
Kirkland, who struggled with depression, sees the app as an opportunity for people who are in the midst of a struggle to connect with others, which usually leads to making more positive choices in ones struggle.
For the full story on YAPA, how it works, and Chris Kirkland, please see the full story at the official site.