Keith Hill has urged people to open up about their mental health issues and fears social media is having a negative impact.

And in rare circumstances, the Tranmere manager took his own lead and revealed his own personal struggles in the past 12 months.

Hill was speaking at his pre-match media press conference ahead of Rovers' weekend fixture against Port Vale, but tying in with the UK's national 'Time to Talk' day, when asked about mental health in football he explained the difficulties within the football bubble.

Speaking to the Globe, he said: “It’s very difficult, especially for the generation that I come from. I don’t think there’s enough protection for managers’ wellbeing, I really don’t. I think we’re a commodity.

“A chaplain contacted me last night with respect to getting in touch with Tranmere’s chaplain. I think it’s a great route for conversation, you know me, I’ll ramble on.

“I love talking football, engaging people and building relationships but not everybody’s the same.

“I can understand mental health issues with the lockdowns we’ve had and the environment we’re in.

“I don’t do social media, but there’s a lot of talk about it and players being attacked. I think it can create quite a lonely persona for a player, if he is being attacked (on social media) for example.

“I would just advocate that people reach out. We have to make sure that we’re looking after one another. Never get in despair."

On a run of seven matches unbeaten and having won the last four, things appear to pretty rosy in Hill's back garden currently, not the mention Tranmere's, who now sit just one point outside the League Two automatic promotion places and 90 minutes away from a return to Wembley in the EFL Trophy.

But it has not been plain sailing for the 51-year-old, as he went onto reveal.

He said: “I found that I find opening up very difficult. I found it in some tough parts of lockdown and the last part of my previous manager’s job, very difficult from a mental health point of view. Very very difficult.

“I tended to bottle it up and you don’t realise yourself probably how dangerous it can be.

“I’m not sat here moaning or anything. I dealt with it the way I was brought up to deal with it on my own, with my family."

Professional footballers have been in a privileged position whereby they have been able to continue with their jobs relatively unaffected since the sport was restarted during the pandemic, but Hill acknowledges that players are just as susceptible to mental health issues as anyone else.

He added: “The football family is so unique, you can help out but it’s actually spotting potentially a player or a member of staff who could be suffering.

“It’s not brave, it’s getting the opportunity to talk about it. Then you’ll probably feel 100 times better.

“It’s a massive problem and I think the lockdown has brough more of that type of problem.

“I don’t want to blame social media but I think a lot of it can be as a result of social media.

“We’re talking about hate but I don’t think it’s all hate. I think it’s social media opinion as well.

“It needs to be addressed. Not just managers, players and staff, I think everybody needs help surrounding mental health problems.”

Regarding matters on the pitch, Rovers head into their home fixture against Port Vale with a clean bill of health, having no injury concerns and their latest round of Covid tests returning negative results across the board.

New signings Ali Crawford and David Nugent are available for selection, but the latter is considered a doubt due to a lack of match practice.

Tranmere Rovers v Port Vale kicks off at 3pm on Saturday, February 6, at Prenton Park. Follow the action with our live blog from the stadium.