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Thread: Mental Health Issues in Cricket - Apparently Extremely Common

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    Request Your Custom Title Now! Flem274*'s Avatar
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    Mental Health Issues in Cricket - Apparently Extremely Common

    Judging by this article...

    Twenty professional cricketers have used mental health support programmes recently, and a clinical psychologist says more are waiting to be seen.

    Karen Nimmo, who will act as support for troubled batsman Jesse Ryder in his return to cricket in the cash-rich Indian Premier League, told the Weekend Herald that "serious psychological problems in sport is a great untapped well".

    The Wellingtonian said the treatment of high-performance sports people had become virtually a full-time job in the past five years.

    "There is pressure on the service," Ms Nimmo said. "Twenty [cricketers] have taken advantage, and there are others who would like the help if they had the opportunity."

    New Zealand has fewer than 100 cricket professionals.

    The manager of the NZ Cricket Players' Association, Heath Mills, said more funding was needed to ensure those who needed help got it.

    "These issues range from depression, anxiety and panic attacks to low self-esteem and self-worth," he said. "They are exacerbated through long absences from family and loved ones in a high-pressure environment."

    Mr Mills, who is also on the board of the Federation of Athletes, said the issue was not restricted to cricket and needed to be pushed to the forefront of the national sporting discussion.

    A recent survey by the NZ Rugby Players' Association found 35 per cent of recently retired players had "feelings of despair or depression".

    Chief executive Rob Nichol feels that figure might be under-reported, because of the tendency of New Zealand males to mask their feelings.

    Mental health issues manifested themselves in different ways, and alcohol abuse was a common release, he said. But in the professional sporting context, the issues had a direct effect on performance.

    Mr Mills said that if cricket identified that it had an issue and got some resources, "we will have improved performance and results".

    "We have a responsibility to ensure we are not harming young athletes through their involvement in sport and that we leave them in a position to contribute to their families and communities when they finish," he said.

    Despite progress being made by figures such as former All Black John Kirwan, who made public his battle with depression to campaign for men to ask for help, Ms Nimmo feels there is a long way to go.

    "Sports need to be realistic about the number of ... serious problems that athletes face," she said.

    "There are a number of good sports psychs, but I don't think sports have yet realised that they need to place attention on clinical issues in sport.

    "The John Kirwan campaign led to a number of people who needed help seeking it, but equally there are people who are still in the 'harden up' school."

    Mr Mills said he sees similar traits in other sports, but cricketers seem to have an acute vulnerability.

    Cricket historian David Frith wrote By His Own Hand and Silence of the Heart, accounts of the lives and suicides of more than 80 cricketers.

    In New Zealand, Ryder's issues have become public, and Lou Vincent and Sir Richard Hadlee have admitted to having had mental health issues.

    "It's a tough, tough sport," Ms Nimmo said.

    She said clinical issues were generally more prevalent in individual sports than team sports, except for cricket.

    The common threads Ms Nimmo hears are the complex balance between individual performance and team requirements; the unforgiving nature that swiftly punishes batsmen's mistakes and gives them ample time to mull them over again and again; the lengthy tours that impact on relationships and career paths; and the need for different mindsets across the three formats.

    Said Mr Mills: "I dread the day when I wake up and read that one of our players, former or current, has killed themselves."
    Top cricketers seek mental health aid - Sport - NZ Herald News

    20 out of less than 100. Jesus.
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    Cricket Web Staff Member Burgey's Avatar
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    There's good money to be had treating mental health issues in sportsmen, that's for sure.
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    International Regular NasserFan207's Avatar
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    Hold on though mate. The article simply states that they 'used mental health programmes', it doesn't say they are all clinically depressed or paranoid or something. Some may be, but something ridiculous like 1 in 3 people will suffer from some form of mental illness at some point during their life. So this doesn't necessarily mean anything except guys getting over the concept that admitting to problems equals weakness.

    This is actually good news IMO, better that this kinda **** gets out in the open and sorted out than allowed to fester
    Last edited by NasserFan207; 30-03-2012 at 06:50 PM.
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    One doubt I always had was if it was not much about cricket, but more about an english problem, because of the perception of the general society about cricketers.

    Brearley writes "cricket and sports in general" but I won't generalize like that.

    If the masterwork 'The Suicide' by Emilé Durkheim ever taught us something is that the suicide (as depression) is not an individual act of weakness as was believed for centuries, but strongly influenced by the society around; of course everybody knows some depressed sportsman and person, however it's a fact that some countries, religions and jobs produces more, you just need to look at how their suicide ratios remains pretty much the same for long periods of time with peaks and lows in case of certain exceptional events (wars, crisis, industry booms).

    A little sidenote, sometime in cricket you hear conception "is that particular sport/activity that attract depressed people" but that only holds true to a lesser point which I'm not keen to discuss here, I invite you all to read that book (and why not, his confutations) if you are interested in the matter.


    Back to the matter, a feeling that I had is that the reason so many more cricketers ends up depressed compared to other sportsmen is influenced by the perception that the general public has of them, which, often, is nearly nothing, leading them to a feeling that they've wasted their lifes, often without even the consolation of money (there are not a lot of money to be made in county cricket, and by the time that you're 35 you have to start from scratch in some other basic activities).

    I remember reading an interview with Collingwood saying 'how much he'd have preferred to play football', and how often the generic briton (and new zealander)* I met answered, when I mentioned that I follow cricket 'Oh really? You do?" with added remarks like 'Is Steve Waugh still playing?' only to smugly underline that they couldn't care less. Hell, of all the britons that I have played club cricket with, there was not one that was really interested in international cricket! Or at least not as much as he was into football or rugby, which they were much more keen to discuss (so it's not only about me being a douche).

    To put it short, cricket is not the problem; the general perception of the english public towards cricketers (which becomes their own) is the real problem. On the other side, and this is what I'm interested in, I hear much less cases of cricket depression from countries like India and Australia, where it looks to me that people are not embarassed to say that they actually follow the game.

    However, as someone said 'the plural of anecdote is not data', so given that all of this was only from my own experience I could be easily wrong. I think it would be impossible to know the depression and suicide rates for cricketers in the various countries, so I'd like to hear what people think about this.


    *EDIT
    Last edited by Гурин; 12-02-2013 at 08:23 AM.


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    Hall of Fame Member honestbharani's Avatar
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    The artcle by Brearley was just quality.. I can understand why he was considered such a good man-manager. He looks like exactly the kind of captain a player can go and talk about his insecurities easily to.
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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Top_Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by honestbharani View Post
    The artcle by Brearley was just quality.. I can understand why he was considered such a good man-manager. He looks like exactly the kind of captain a player can go and talk about his insecurities easily to.
    Is a psychoanalyst by training.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Гурин View Post
    To put it short, cricket is not the problem; the general perception of the english public towards cricketers (which becomes their own) is the real problem. On the other side, and this is what I'm interested in, I hear much less cases of cricket depression from countries like India and Australia, where it looks to me that people are not embarassed to say that they actually follow the game.
    Would counter that there's actually heaps of depressed players in Aussie cricket, some of which have killed themselves. I would further suggest that they are more readily assigned the label 'difficult personality' and quietly excised from any rep teams before long. Reckon that's partially why we don't hear much about it here.
    Last edited by Top_Cat; 12-02-2013 at 04:07 PM.
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    School Boy/Girl Captain Гурин's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Top_Cat View Post
    Would counter that there's actually heaps of depressed players in Aussie cricket, some of which have killed themselves. I would further suggest that they are more readily assigned the label 'difficult personality' and quietly excised from any rep teams before long. Reckon that's partially why we don't hear much about it here.
    Interesting.

    Quote Originally Posted by LongHopCassidy View Post
    I agree, great article, but there are a few things that I won't immediately agree with.

    1- He mentions that one of the problems is that international cricketers spend a lot of time away from home, but one of the gut feelings i have is that first class cricketers are no less prone to depression than international ones (if anything, it looks the other way around)

    2- About pressure, I can completely understand from where he's coming from, however let's not forget that the vast majority of FC games are played in front of three men and a dog, the individual results may be more objectively defined but are not comparable with football players (every code) playing in front of tens of thousands every week. I still mantain that one of the problems might sometime be this, a lack of pressure, things could however be different now that IPL and BBL are around. But let's not forget: cricket is a sport without a free market, where only around 15 players from a country are going to play at the highest level; for such an objective sport, the subjective bias of a selector is an immense power tool, and sometime I can see a player feeling that everything he does could be pointless. Let's not forget that depression in Durkheim analysis had two axis:

    -Integration
    -Regulations

    Lack or eccess in one of the two could lead to depression and maybe eventually suicide. Not that I can write about anomie in cricket in little time and in a language that's not my own, but it's a point of view that I'd like to see deepened.

    3- "Cricket has traditionally been a middle- and upper-class pursuit in many parts of the world - attracting people who in other walks of life know and -chase perfection, a trait common among depression sufferers." So what about the other parts of the world? Isn't then still a locally social (and not cricketing) problem? That's why I'd love to hear from our subcontinent based fans, cricket holds such a different place in their culture with nearly everybody playing and a lot of people following the game that, has the thing about 'cricket attracts depressed people' been true, one could think that those countries as a whole should be more prone to suicide and depression since how much more cricket is followed compared to us. I was thinking about Australia aswell, but, while not the same, they are still culturally a lot closer to England, SA and NZ.

    4- "The game, buried in statistics, may attract the analytically inclined - the sort of person who wants to obsess about technique and dwell on statistical comparisons to justify his worth to the team." A sidenote, you guys have no idea of how many chess players at every level are into cricket (and to a lesser extent baseball), from Nigel Short to Peter Svidler (who said that his dream is to become the first russian-speaking cricket commentator, and who has a photo in the nets on his facebook page) to a bunch of less known ones, so this might well be true.
    Last edited by Гурин; 13-02-2013 at 02:50 AM.



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