Mental health and wellbeing
Experiencing a range of both positive and negative emotions in response to life’s experiences and challenges is normal, not to mention when it's coupled with the pressure of being a professional tennis player.
Mental health and wellbeing is a sliding scale and everyone will move up and down the scale on a daily basis. Mental health illnesses come in many forms, some of which, like anxiety & low mood, are very common.
Research suggests the following steps can promote positive emotional well-being. Why not give them a try?
With the people around you; family, friends, your coach, fellow players. At home or on the road, talk and listen. Be there for others. Building these connections and social relationships can promote wellbeing.
Regular movement and exercise makes us feel good. As a tennis player you'll be doing this every day but make sure you incorporate an exercise that you really enjoy as well as what you have to do to play tennis. Go to a park and walk the dog, jog, do yoga or a dance class.
Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Park in a different parking bay, visit a different lunch spot. Notice the sights around you and be aware of the world around you, the sounds, smells and textures. Maybe try out a mindfulness exercise.
Why not try something new or rediscover that old hobby? Perhaps sign up for that new course or learn to play an instrument, fix a bike, cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving outside of your tennis goals. Learning new things gives us a sense of achievement as well as being fun.
Helping others can give joy and happiness. Give your time, your words, your presence. Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer. Join an online group. Look out, as well as in.
5 tips to support someone who may be finding things challenging or emotionally overwhelming
- Try and speak to them about their feelings - perhaps name what you've noticed in their behaviour and let them know you're there to talk if they ever need to. If they do want to talk, validate their perspective and feelings & acknowledge how hard it can be to talk about them. Try to really listen and not jump in and try to ‘fix’ the issue or challenge.
- Encourage them to talk to other people whom they trust - this could be parents, a friend, colleague, or perhaps a schoolteacher.
- Support them to think about ways to manage their upset or difficult feelings - this could include encouraging them to spend time with family and friends, writing their feelings down, or doing activities that make them feel good. If you're particularly worried, encourage them to seek professional support from their GP or one of the services listed below.
- Plan to check in on how they're feeling - this could be when you next meet.
- Speak with a trusted person yourself - to review your support, debrief and acknowledge your own emotional response. Supporting others can be a hard role at times.
Experiencing a mental health problem can often be frightening and confusing but the key thing to remember is that many people feel this way. It's important for you to find the right support and/or treatment for you.
We recommend that if you're experiencing any feelings of continued low mood or continued worry/anxiety that you speak to someone you trust. Talking to someone is key to helping you understand what you're feeling and what support you might need.
You could also call the NHS on 111 for advice, or seek help from your GP. They're well placed to be able to support you and recommend any professional support options or treatment.
For immediate concerns, where you feel there may be a serious risk of harm to someone and they need professional help fast, call 999 or take them to A&E for an urgent mental health assessment.
Sources of support
The NHS offer mental health services for both young people (CAMHS) and adults. GPs can make these referrals, and local adult mental health services usually accept self-referrals.
Your local LTA venue welfare officer can also provide signposting advice.
There are also a number of organisations and charities that aim to support both young people and adults, some with crisis support and others with information & advice.
These organisations are available immediately if you're struggling emotionally and need support:
- Samaritans - Phone 116 123 (24 hrs) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or samaritans.org
- Saneline – Phone 0300 304 7000 or sane.org.uk
- Childline - Phone 0800 1111 or chat online childline.org.uk
- Shout 85258 - is a free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service
Information & advice
These organisations can provide general information and advice if you're worried about someone, want to know more about different types of mental health issues, or if you have had a recent diagnosis or issue yourself and want to connect with others who can relate.
Several helpful apps are also available which can offer wellbeing advice & support, these include: