Northern Ireland news

Carl Frampton speaks out about mental health problems in north and west Belfast

Boxer Carl Frampton. Picture from PA

Carl Frampton has spoken out about mental health issues in north and west Belfast.

The boxer, who grew up in Tiger's Bay in north Belfast and has been a world champion in two weights, told a podcast that he felt it was important for sportspeople to speak out about mental health.

"We all know what's going on, especially around north and west Belfast," he said.

"There's a bit of a mental health problem, if that's what you want to call it. I think it's important that people who are in positions like me and other sportspeople speak up about it and be honest and help kids who are struggling."

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Earlier this year west Belfast boxer Michael Conlan organised an open letter - signed by Frampton and Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody - which called on Stormont to tackle the north's mental health crisis.

Speaking to broadcaster Wendy Austin as part of a new podcast series launched by Danske Bank, Frampton said his sport has changed its attitude towards mental health.

"It's good that it has changed," he said.

"Boxing (is) a sport where people have to be seen as being tough and they put this mask on almost. Not every boxer is a tough guy.

"You look at the struggles (world champion boxer) Tyson Fury has gone through... He's openly talked about his depression and the issues he's had with poor mental health and he's been able to overcome that and get to the top."

Carl Frampton speaking to broadcaster Wendy Austin. Picture from Danske Bank

Frampton said as a boxer "you need to be mentally very strong" - a skill he has had to learn.

"Self-belief was something that didn't come naturally to me. It was only through boxing and me being involved in boxing that I started to have a self-confidence and a self-belief. That was one of the reasons why I joined the boxing club. I was a shy, timid kid."

He said it is important for people to build enough resilience to help them cope with life's challenges.

"It’s difficult for people at the moment, everyone is stressed about the future. But we need to encourage people not to give up, to take whatever positives they can out of this situation and look for the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s hard to do if you don’t talk about it.”

The podcast is available at www.danskebank.co.uk/business/advantage

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