Eastbourne Borough manager Lee Bradbury wants to raise mental health awareness after revealing his own struggles with the illness.

Bradbury, who took charge at Priory Lane this summer, is preparing for tomorrow’s National South kick-off with a trip to Billericay.

But the new boss is striving to make a difference off the pitch as well to help those scarred by personal traumas such as his own.

He has set up a clothing company called Bridge with 20% of the profits being donated to mental health charities.

The former Bournemouth boss revealed how Bridge came about.

He told The Argus: “I was in an accident four years ago, a boating accident and lost my best friend. It was quite traumatic and he was airlifted from a boat. We tried to save him but he had passed away at the scene.

“Off the back of that I started to have panic attacks, anxiety and had post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosed by the doctor. I struggled a bit for a while, although obviously still managing to do what I needed to do.

“Every now and again I’d have these attacks, so it was something I thought about and I wanted to give something back.

“I did that by setting up Bridge clothing. The reason it is called Bridge is because a bridge gets you over something, gets you from one side to the other, it’s got strong foundations and a good structure. That’s what you need to get over some of these things.”

Bradbury coped with the illness while managing a successful Havant & Waterlooville side.

He said: “It was hard. We won the Ryman Premier in 2017/18 and then won the Conference South in 2018/19, whilst going through that as well. It was a good distraction to be honest.

“It’s not until after you look back and go ‘how did I get through that’, but you do. I had good family and friends around me and a good team helping me at the football club.”

Mental health has become a wider issue in football, with players like Danny Rose speaking out. Bradbury believes it is vital players do not bottle things up He said: “Definitely it’s very important, it used to be frowned upon. I was in the army at 16 and a lot of it used to be just man up, get on with it.

“But it’s not about manning up, it’s actually to be brave by talking about it and getting help if you need it and that’s important.

“It is brave coming out and speaking about it because it won’t get better on its own.”

Bradbury believes authorities are responding to the growing focus on mental health issues in sport.

He said: “They are upping their game now. Over the last few years it has really come to the forefront of all sport. A lot of sportsmen and women have shown that they are going through it. They are trying to up their game and rightly so.”

Bradbury is now relishing his first campaign with Borough. He said: “I’m really looking forward to it. We have got a good group of lads – they are honest and hard working.

“It will take a little bit of changing. The club for me hasn’t done things correctly over the previous years, they are trying to change things behind the scenes and on the pitch. It’s not an overnight fix, but we are working hard to try and do that.”

Borough have a tough start against Billericay and Bradbury’s old club Havant also in the first month.

He said: “They are going to be the two clubs that will be favourites in the league, spending a lot of money. It’s going to be tough but you have got to play them all twice and it will be a good indication of where we are after the first game. A point would be great but all three would be fantastic.”