Newcastle United stars open up on mental health after Champions League heroics

Newcastle United’s Sean Longstaff and Dan Burn on mental health

Two Newcastle United players have opened up on their mental health battles throughout their careers following their heroics in the club’s Champions League journey so far.

Dan Burn and Sean Longstaff have been helping lead the conversation to erase the “taboo” of opening up on mental health after experiencing a powerful wellbeing workshop with Newcastle United Foundation.

Attending the session ahead of World Mental Health Day on Tuesday (October 10), the Newcastle United duo joined Football Talks – a programme delivered by the Club’s official charity arm encouraging people of all ages to connect, united by their passion for the Magpies.

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Over the last couple of weeks, it’s been a memorable experience for both players, with Burn and Longstaff both on the scoresheet against Paris Saint-Germain as well as starring in an unbeaten run of seven games.

Away from the pitch, the impact has been equally impressive with their 90 minutes at Football Talks creating conversation for Foundation participants as the pair shared their own experiences of managing mental health.

The dark moments in Burn and Longstaff’s life were reflected by attendees of the free Football Talks events held at the Foundation’s community hub.

During the session, Longstaff remarked, “I think mental health is so much bigger than football and it shows that people are no more important than each other,” recalling a trying time he went through a number of years ago to address his own mental wellbeing.


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“Just because you see somebody playing football on the telly, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t affected by the same things that somebody watching the game is.

Burn pointed to social media as a negative influence in his life around ten years ago and the burden of criticism outweighed the support and praise he would receive online.

He said: “It’s hard when you’re in that negative headspace because you don’t actually realise that you’re in it and you think that some of the things you’re worrying about and stressing about don’t matter or have an impact, but they do.

“Now that I’m struggling, I can’t believe those kinds of thoughts were even in my head during those times.”

Since the program’s debut in 2020, more than 430 Football Talks workshops have been held. Eighty-six percent of participants say Football Talks have helped them feel less alone, and ninety-three percent say attending the sessions has helped them make new friends and expand their support system.


Burn, who has participated in several of the charity’s programmes to date, said, “The work that the Foundation does across all their programmes is so important but to see the work on supporting mental health first-hand is really special.”


“It was evident that the group was supportive, helpful, and cohesive, and I would strongly advise anyone who is experiencing difficulties to reach out to the Foundation.”

We don’t talk about it enough and it’s such a taboo subject. Everyone, regardless of background, is impacted by mental health, which is why it needs to be spoken more in order to assist people who might not seek out the treatment they require or desire.

Longstaff, an Ambassador for Newcastle United Foundation, also encouraged people in the North East to reach out and start conversations about mental health.

“The session was powerful and sad,” Longstaff said.

“There was a gentleman who opened up and talked about suicides in his family and it was hard to hear.“For him to have this group of people and support from the Foundation is really important because it’s a space where he and others can help each other and support each other.

“These Football Talks sessions make more difference than anybody can realise or describe.”

The North East continues to report the highest number of suicides of any region in England.

The Foundation provides several free assistance initiatives as part of its health and wellbeing offering to address the issue of poor mental health among men and women in the area.Longstaff, who had become acquainted with Football Talks attendees, observed the camaraderie among the attendees and urged the renowned Geordie spirit to stimulate discourse at St. James’ Park, on public transit or at home.

“The unique quality of Newcastle lies in its people – it’s a city that fosters interpersonal communication,” Longstaff continued.

“I know it sounds corny, but a simple hello can make a huge difference to someone sitting next to you on a bus who is going through a lot or something else awful.”



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