I opened the sports section of yesterday’s paper and in amongst the postmortems of England’s failed World Cup bid and the jubilation over the England cricket team’s successes down under was this advert for Time to Change featuring former England batsman Marcus Trescothick. It’s interesting that it is in the Sports section and in some ways follows on from last weeks post about Bradley Wiggins. Firstly, Trescothick received a lot of flak for leaving the last Ashes Tour down-under after he came home early as a result of what was then described as “home sickness”. To appear amongst the very same sports pages obviously was meant to provoke a reaction amongst readers. And so secondly, who are the main readers of sports pages? Men. And who are least likely to admit to suffering from depression, anxiety and stress? Men! I admire the way that Trescothick has not only acknowledged and started to deal with his problems but has fronted this campaign. We admire our sportsmen and women when they are winning but love to bash them when they are down, never accepting the excuses and dismissing as unacceptable weakness the underlying reasons. I’ve been as guilty as the next fan but I’ve started to rethink this. It takes courage to make a stand, be that to yourself and to the outside world. Each of us can play our own part in beating the stigma of mental health issues: those of us who suffer can take the courage to admit our problems – life will only get better when you do; to those on the outside, look at how you can support family, friends and colleagues best in feeling less “odd” (even if its just an ear to bend and shoulder to cry on, that often can be the biggest help). Out of it all we can begin to share our experiences, in this way we can break down the myths, give others the inforamtion they need to take their own steps and so begin to fight the prejudice. I hope I’ve managed to do my bit through this blog and would encourage others to do their own thing.
And if you want further information about the campaign go to www.time-to-change.org.uk and make your own pledge. This is something I have become passionate about changing as a result of my own experience. And in the words of the Lion in the Wizard of Oz, courage can make slaves into kings. Let’s all be lions this winter and lay these bigger ashes to rest!