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Snooker players urged to look out for each other amid mental health fears

Snooker's top stars have been urged to watch out for each other after a number of high-pedigree players reported mental health worries.

Five-time world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan has frequently spoken about his struggles with depression and how he finds running therapeutic.

Reigning Masters champion Mark Allen has given candid accounts of how life on tour has left him in dark places.

And from the lower ranks of the professional game, English cueman Mitchell Mann has been struck hard by anxiety and depressive problems. There have been other cases, too, prompting the sport's authorities to act.

Mann, 26, withdrew from the Betfred World Championship qualifiers earlier this month when trailing Ryan Day 7-1 in the second round due to illness.

Mitchell Mann

"I've kept very close to Mitchell Mann," said Jason Ferguson, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association.

"I did speak to him (after the qualifiers) and I felt very sorry for him.

"Snooker is a very solitary sport. When you start taking people on their own to strange countries, strange destinations, it is a risk for us.

"In our induction days for new players on tour, we always talk about keeping an eye on your peers and friends.

"If someone's not turned up for breakfast one morning, ask the question: where are they?"

The WPBSA has ties with the Silence of Suicide organisation, and now offers confidential and professional support to suffering players.

Allen, through to the Crucible quarter-finals this year, was not surprised to hear Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick recently reveal trips with England had left him depressed.

United fan Allen told Press Association Sport: "People will probably say he's got a cheek to talk because he earns so much money, but money doesn't come into it at all.

"Being away from your family, your friends and your inner circle on a regular basis and spending time in hotel rooms looking at the same four walls all the time, it's not a nice feeling, I don't care what anyone says.

"For year on year I was just locking myself away in my room and I didn't want to see anyone, even if they were my friends.

"Now I try to get myself out and socialise for dinner, and I even try to arrange my practice sessions at the same time as a mate just to get a bit of conversation.

"It's such a hard sport at the best of times so you don't want to make it harder for yourself."

- PA