Sport and Mental Health
Sally Perkins looks at the Top Sports Stars who have opened up about their mental health.
Mental health problems are both the UK and the worldwide epidemic. With one British government report finding that 14.7% of people in this country go through mental health problems in the workplace, it is clear that there is a widespread problem. And for those who work in sport, the macho environment of some teams and relative lack of institutional support means that it can be even harder to turn up to work as a footballer, rugby player, or another sportsperson without experiencing problems. Many sports stars bravely fight back through communicating openly and honestly.
The Olympic cyclist has many achievements under her belt these days, but it has not always been rosy for Victoria Pendleton. When she was in her twenties, she took to self-harm to manage her negative feelings, and she experienced low moods and similar problems. But talking - and visiting a psychiatrist - helped her. "There are so many people within the sport who do not feel comfortable talking about their weaknesses, but I cannot help but be honest," she has said.
The former England cricketer has experienced severe mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. He even left the team to focus on working out his problems, but he is now opened up about what he experienced. "I was cooped up in bed for the best part of a week, and it got progressively worse to the point where I thought I had got to get out of here and sort out what is happening to me."
A former goalkeeper for both Manchester United and Rangers, Andy Goram is no stranger to the world of mental health problems. He visited Alcoholics Anonymous after realising he had a problem with drinking, and he was also diagnosed with a form of schizophrenia in the 1990s. Luckily,
schizophrenia therapy and medication choices have developed and become more widely known in recent decades - and that is partly due to the bravery of people like Goram. They decided to go public with their diagnosis.
Sportsmen and women may face more problems than others if they mentally go through a tough time. But thanks to the courage of those who have decided to speak out. The world of sport is becoming a better place for those who experience issues. And with more and more sportspeople going public about their problems, likely fan acceptance and structural support will get better and better.
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About the Author
Sally Perkins is a professional freelance writer with years' experience across many different areas. She moved to freelance from a stressful corporate job and loved the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and travelling as much as possible.