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'Don't be afraid to speak out' – Man Utd's James urges more people to open up on mental health issues

23:49 GMT 03/02/2020
Daniel James Manchester United 2019-20
The Welsh attacker has battled issues of his own and is using his experiences to help others in similar situations

Manchester United winger Daniel James has embarked on a mission to help others speak out on mental health issues based on his own experiences.

The 22-year-old lost his father suddenly just prior to making a £15 million ($19m) switch from Swansea City to the Red Devils in the summer.

James has joined forces with Peter Hill's Place2Place organisation, which is a club set up in Wigan to help people with mental health issues.

The Wales international says the experience of losing a close relative helped him to realise the fragility of mental health and that people who are struggling should talk about their issues.

"When something like [a family death] happens, it's always best to speak out and I think when I have, and I've spoken to people in similar situations, it's helped me so much," James told BBC North West.

"Getting the message out there to speak out is huge and I think you can be the brightest person in the room but people never know what's going on really inside and the hardest thing obviously is to speak out.

"I think Peter and me, myself, is trying to encourage people to be able to speak out and speak to others and don't be afraid to do that."

James spoke of the effect the death of his father had on him but believes joining Manchester United has helped him cope with the loss.

"It didn't really hit me until about three months and I think that being at United, and that he knew that I was going to United, was obviously a massive thing for me," he said.

"I think from then on, I just wanted to make him proud and play for an amazing club, someone I've always wished to play for, and for him to look down at me say I'm proud of you.

"And I think that's helped me so much, just always stay positive. Sometimes, there's obviously times where you can't."

James started his United career with three goals in his first four Premier League games and has made 24 appearances for the club in all competitions.

The Red Devils are now into their Premier League break with their next match not coming until February 17 against Chelsea.