Talking is biggest help for those who are struggling says Somerset captain Abell
- Credit: PA
Somerset captain Tom Abell has been working with Sporting Minds UK during his unexpected time out in the UK lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Abell is an ambassador for the charity, for athletes between 16 and 30, and took part in a Q&A session with Press Association as part of Mental Heath Awareness Week to discuss his role.
Q.How did you get involved with Sporting Minds UK?
A.Mental health is a huge thing in sport and we have seen increasing numbers of people come out talking about it.
I personally haven’t been affected but a number of people close to me have had their own battles.
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Callum Lea (19-year-old former Worcestershire prospect and SMUK founder) got in touch with on and asked if I could help spread the word because talking to people is the biggest help for anyone who is struggling.
Q.Is cricket ahead of other sports thanks to the honesty of players like your old captain Marcus Trescothick?
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A.Some pretty influential figures like ‘Tres’ have come out and spoken about it and that gives people the confidence to talk too.
A lot of sport is about pressure and there’s a lot of judgement, but having inspirational people like that, who you look up to, helps everyone reach out.
Q.Has lockdown and the change of routine been a challenge?
A.It’s a funny thing – when you’re playing your whole year can be intense and mentally very demanding.
The nature of cricket is that you learn to deal with failure so I’ve tried to frame it as a chance to relax and switch off.
I’ve attempted to take a step back because the intensity will come around again.
Q.As captain are you checking in with younger players particularly?
A.That is a demographic that might be particularly anxious about the current situation because it’s a crucial period of your career when you’re that sort of age.
The last thing you want is for people to deal with that on their own, especially if they are used to being around people and socialising.
It’s important they have people in their cricket circles but having someone available confidentially, removed from the game, is equally important and that’s where the charity comes in.
Q.How has the club been getting involved in the community?
A.We are currently on furlough but as it stands we have been able to ring around the membership voluntarily. We know lots of people who would have been at the cricket might be getting lonely for struggling without it.
It’s great to reach out and have a chat with people – it’s not much, but it’s the least we can do.
Q.What are you missing most about the circuit?
A.I guess it’s that day-to-day interaction with your best mates; that feeling you get after a challenging day when you get back in the dressing room and relax as a team.
The other thing I miss is the element of competitive, the edge.
Q.Is it personally frustrating after your England Lions call-up over the winter?
A.I felt incredibly fortunate to some great experiences and my first involvement in an England set-up. We had some good results in Australia and there are few better places to tour.
Naturally I wanted to kick of from that, take my game to the next level but I’m trying not to worry too much about cricket matters and just focus on staying fit and healthy.
Q.What are your lockdown entertainment recommendations?
AI’ve finished After Life with Ricky Gervais, rewatched Game of Thrones and now I’m getting through Friday Night Lights. I’ve also been learning the ukulele a little bit – Hey Soul Sister is my go tune at the moment but it’s a work in progress.
*Sporting Minds UK is a registered charity that provides and promotes mental health support in young sports people. To access one-to-one support, get involved or donate go to sportingmindsuk.org.