A FAMILY friend was recently finding life a struggle so I asked Dean Windass for help.

He sent a personal video to cheer her up with the message to make her bed.

That has become the motto that Windass has been spreading over social media in recent months to make people feel good about themselves.

Every morning, followers on Twitter and Facebook will be greeted with the cheery sight of the former City striker delivering a pep talk for the day ahead.

And always, the key point will be “make your bed and put the pillows on top”.

Deano’s fight with depression has been well documented and got to the lowest point in January 2012 when he contemplated taking his own life.

The mental demons remain a regular opponent but one he meets head on with his almost evangelical videos every morning.

His audience grows every day with the positive-lifestyle message getting across to so many who are finding it hard to cope.

But it starts with making your bed – something Windass picked up from hearing Vinnie Jones interviewed on TV.

He said: “Vinnie was asked how he was managing to carry on after the death of his wife.

“It was obviously really tough for him but he said the first thing he always does when he gets up in the morning was to make his bed.

“I’ve got OCD so I’m quite a tidy person anyway. But I was sat there thinking, ‘yeah he’s right because you’ve got to get out your bed to make it’.

“If you’ve got mental health problems, anxiety and depression it can be tough to get up.

“When I was in a bad situation, I was laying in bed thinking about everything.

“So, I sent this video out and the response I got was incredible.”

Windass may seem an unlikely figurehead for a mental health campaign.

Anyone who watched him on a football pitch will remember a confident, cocky character who was never intimidated by any situation.

His 86-goal tally in two spells at Valley Parade is still among the top five in City’s history. He always played with a swagger.

But deep down he suffered – a problem that got worse as he battled with alcoholism after hanging up his boots.

Spending nearly a month in rehab helped to confront those mental issues and made him aware of the number of people in the same boat.

“Someone messaged me to ask why it was so important that you had to make the bed?

“But the moral of the story is that you have to get out of it first to make it.

“Instead of laying there in self-pity and worrying about what’s going on, you get up, make your bed, have a cup of tea and then you start your day.

“That all begins with getting out of bed and if you make it, you feel better.

“If you then have a difficult day, again you’re coming back to a made bed and that’s going to help.

“Somebody might wake up this morning and feel bad with all that’s going on. But if they’ve been watching the videos, they’ll get up and subconsciously make their bed and get started.

“Sometimes I’ll have a bad day and not be feeling great but I express why on the video.

“I’ve got to do it every day. People expect to see me and if I don’t do it, maybe someone might suffer.

“The response I got straight away was incredible and there were so many people saying that I’d made them feel better.

“My philosophy with all of this is that if it helps to save one person’s life then it is worth doing.

“My Twitter followers have gone up by about 20,000 so it makes you realise how many are watching.”

Former Middlesbrough team-mate Mark Crossley has started doing the same when he goes for a walk.

Windass said: “He’s been suffering a little bit and then he started going out for walks and suddenly that escalated.

“So, I keep doing my videos and he films his walks and we bounce off each other.

“I’m not being sexist here but it does tend to be more men than women who are suffering.

“Because of the alpha male thing, you’re not supposed to show your feelings.

“I try to send out the message that you’re very brave to say you are struggling.

“When we cried as kids, your dad would say, ‘what are you crying for?’ You were made to feel weak.

“But that was the way your parents brought you up in those days.”

Windass keeps in regular touch with mum Doreen as the coronavirus pandemic threatens to shut people off.

Self-isolation runs the risk of increasing anxiety levels – but he hopes it can also work the other way by encouraging relatives and friends to talk more.

“Those suffering from mental health, anxiety and panic attacks can’t go out. But they can pick up the phone and talk.

“It’s very difficult when you’re self-isolated and people can’t come and see you, especially if you are older.

“But I speak to my mum every day and ask her how she’s feeling. So, in a way you might end up talking to them more often than you did before because of what’s happening now.”