As the cricket season gets into full swing, ex-England cricketers Tim Ambrose, Jonathan Trott and Ashley Giles are throwing their weight behind a new campaign encouraging men to be in their mate’s corner.
With 1 in 4 people fighting a mental health problem in any given year. Ambrose, Trott and Giles are calling on men to step in if their mate is acting differently as part of Time to Change’s newly launched, ‘In your Corner’ campaign. The campaign, which has also received backing from sports stars Clarke Carlisle, Frank Bruno, Justin Rose and Ricky Hatton, highlights that you don’t need to be an expert to be there to support a friend with a mental health problem.
Appearing in a photoshoot to support the campaign, Ambrose, Trott and Giles talk about life as a cricketer having many highs. However, the hectic schedule, long periods away from home and the pressures of elite sport can put a strain on a players’ mental health. This is backed up by research into elite athletes and mental health which shows that depression can be connected to sport-related factors such as injuries, overtraining, stress and performance failure.
Similar photoshoots have taken place with Rugby League players and former England cricketers, showing the sportsmen sat on Time to Change’s ‘In Your Corner stool’ – a prominent feature of the campaign’s film which symbolises being there for a friend.
The Professional Cricketer’s Association (PCA) and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) are among organisations taking strides to help make an industry-wide difference to tackling mental health stigma and promoting mental wellbeing and resilience through their commitment to the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation.
Ex-England Cricketer and Warwickshire batsman Jonathan Trott who has spoken publically about his experience of anxiety, has backed Time to Change’s In Your Corner campaign. He said:
“It’s important to have people that you can chat to and open up to and have an environment where you have the trust of people and you feel that you can speak to them.
“It’s always good to have people that you can trust away from the dressing room as well. It’s important that you have people in different areas of your life that you can talk to.
“If you are in a good place to be open and honest about your experiences it’s always good to share and help other people who might be experiencing similar things.”
Ex-England Cricketer and Warwickshire wicket-keeper Tim Ambrose who has experienced depression has also got behind the campaign. He said:
“It’s hugely important to have someone in the dressing room looking out for you. We are a team and we are team mates in many regards. You worry and you care about each other on a human level, not just on a professional level.
“You need each other when things are tough out there and it’s important that you help each other out when things are tough anywhere else.
“The more knowledge and awareness we have of mental health issues, the better we are at spotting the symptoms.
“We are getting better at that. The PCA have done a lot of work in recent years to bring professionals in the area to understand what the signs are and to help each other.
“It comes down to being open and honest with each other and being able to ask a mate if he needs help.
“At Warwickshire we have been through our share of ups and downs and highs and lows. We understand each other as professionals and as people. That comes over time from being in close proximity with each other and communicating with each other. Knowledge is important.”
Ex-England cricketer and Warwickshire Cricket Sport Director Ashley Giles MBE, has also backed the campaign. He said:
“We are in the performance business, the sharp end of professional sport, but as a head coach or director of cricket I have a duty of care to all my players and I take that very seriously.
“I have suffered some pretty tough times during my career. I know those stresses and I understand them so I try and look at it from a holistic point of view. We are not just trying to produce cricketers here we are trying to produce rounded, happy individuals as well so we take mental wellbeing very seriously.
“During my playing career Steve Bull, the England sports psychologist helped me through the tough stages. Whether it was therapy or just giving me tools to help me get to the other end, but that is what it did. Having the support of my team mates and coach helped. I always felt I had their support.
“When I went through tough times it wasn’t something that you wanted to share or to talk about. It’s amazing, you would play with guys who knew you were struggling or someone else might be struggling but very rarely would you talk about it.
“But now, the more we have people in the public eye talk about mental health, the better it is because it’s normal. It doesn’t make you strange, it doesn’t make you different. They are normal pressures that anyone would feel.
“It’s important that people know there is a support system there for them and they are not alone.
“A lot of our focus is on winning games of cricket but we do have that duty of care to look after people and keep an eye out for their welfare. That’s the most important thing. Cricket comes and goes but mental welfare is something you are going to need for the rest of your life.”
Director of Time to Change, a mental health campaign led by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, Sue Baker OBE, said:
“We’re delighted that cricketing heroes Tim Ambrose, Jonathan Trott and Ashley Giles are throwing their weight behind our campaign to improve attitudes towards mental health. Their support will help us spread the message across the cricketing community that men should be looking out for each other’s mental health as part of being a good mate. Doing this would mean fewer men facing mental health problems alone and fewer lives ruined. That’s why we have launched our In Your Corner campaign – if a friend’s acting differently, step in, find out why and be there to support.”
Time to Change launched ‘In Your Corner’ in February to encourage men to be more open and supportive of friends, family and colleagues with a mental health problem. The campaign will run for five years but in the first month alone 18.5 million people have seen the launch film. Of this 1 in 3 men who saw the campaign film either did something to help a mate or said they were planning to.
There are three steps people can take if they think a friend is struggling:
1. Text, call, reach out to your mate
2. Ask how they are, listen without judging
3. Be yourself, do everyday things.
To find out more information about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit: www.time-to-change.org.uk/inyourcorner