“No-one is immune to mental health issues…we all need talk openly about mental health, encourage conversation, and banish stigma.”
That’s the message from Warwickshire players and staff who have come together in support of Mental Health Awareness Day (Tuesday, October 10).
First Team Coach Mark Robinson – who led England Women’s team at the 2017 World Cup – Vice Captain Alex Davies and Dan Mousley took time to discuss their experiences and the importance of a supportive dressing room to promote wellbeing.
One in four adults have experienced mental ill health. Openly talking about mental health helps normalise the subject, stimulates healthy conversation and promotes a positive state of wellbeing.
Robinson said: “We’ve done a lot of work over the last 18 months with a relatively new group of players to try and understand each other better and to spot the signs if someone is struggling.
“To be less judgemental and more curious. If someone is acting in a different way, be curious to ask how they.
“We all have our good periods and our bad periods. We all suffer at times with anxiety or other mental health issues.
“I had a bad period when the team was doing badly and home was quite tough. I was full and fighting on too many different fronts.
“I remember someone asking to see me and I though ‘oh no, I’m going to get beaten up again’.
“But he sat me down and just asked me how I was. And it was the nicest thing I felt anyone had ever done, that all the air, the pressure, had been taken out of me.
“It’s about speaking up, and being brave enough and open enough, and the environment being trusting enough that you feel you can. And the message to say it sooner before you get too low.”
Davies – who captained the Bears to 10 wins from 10 in Vitality Blast North Group this season – believes sport and dressing rooms have improved during his career and the environment to talk mental health is more supportive.
Davies said: “The sport and dressing rooms are definitely a lot better now than when I first started.
“The culture and mentality then was just crack on, get on with it, don’t be seen as weak or let anyone inside that armoury of yours.
“The stigma has dropped off a bit, coaching staff are a lot closer to players now, and getting to know each person on an individual level.
“But there is still a long way to go because there are still people fighting battles that we’ll never know about.
“It’s about creating a safe environment, not just in sport but across all businesses and organisations, so that if people want to talk they feel comfortable and will be listened to.”
Mousley, aged 22, said having the support of Club Performance Psychologist Kate Green and the wider coaching staff is helping with players’ wellbeing.
He added: “There are times when you’re not happy, anxious or worrying about something down the line that’s not in your control.
“I have a tendency to keep myself to myself, but I know I’m not at my best then. That’s why having Greeny (Kate Green) and other coaching staff to talk stuff through with has been great, and knowing it’s OK not to be OK sometimes.
“You’re not immune to it as a professional cricketer, people will say you’ve got the best job, which we have, but sometimes it doesn’t go your way and there’s stuff in your personal life having an impact.”
For mental health support visit the charity MIND which provides a confidential information line, friendly advisors to talk to, and opportunities to meet with local community groups.
Hayley Jarvis, Head of Physical Activity for Mind, said: “We know the power sport can have as force for change, not least around mental health.
“We’re delighted Warwickshire players have come together to mark World Mental Health Day this year and to fight for mental health.
“We hope their honesty and openness inspires more people to think about their own mental health and also to check in with a team mate or colleague.
“This World Mental Health Day take action by putting yourself first. Reach out for help.”
For more information go to the Mind website or call their Helpline 0300 123 3393