Although stigma around mental health has decreased, it may still be a taboo subject for a young player in a senior dressing room. Tapp hopes his talks might help players overcome the fear of speaking up in front of their older peers.
“I used to be in a changing room with individuals who were 25, 30-plus. I used to be this 18-year-old in a really strong environment,” he continues.
“It probably does play on these young pros’ minds and so they think, ‘I can’t express an excessive amount of because I don’t wish to be seen as this young one who can’t really handle it’. It could actually be an industry where younger players feel like they will’t open up, they will’t be at one with their emotions and the way they’re feeling.
It’s something that we’d like to shake. In the event that they hear it from me, with me being not that much older than them, hopefully that changes the stigma and really makes them understand and feel like they will reach out more.”
Clubs are doing more to guard their young players’ welfare. In January, Crystal Palace became the primary Premier League side to supply released academy players a three-year aftercare programme. In-house counselling opportunities have vastly improved across the football pyramid during the last decade.
Tapp points out that change have to be driven from the changing room, though. “It comes from the changing room, and that is something I spoke with the MK Dons youth team about,” he concludes.
“Having that stigma of being a young man and never having the arrogance to speak to your pals within the changing room. You don’t should be thick-skinned on a regular basis. Just chatting with your pals and your team-mates might be vital.”