British Tennis Mental Health Ambassadors increasing awareness
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One in four people have mental health problems at some point in their lives; that's approximately 21 million citizens in the UK.
Tennis, as with all sport, is great for improving and maintaining mental health – it helps with stress, releases endorphins and is a good opportunity to spend time with friends. However, it can also bring challenges.
For some, tennis can also be high pressure, which can be particularly challenging for those with mental health problems. Whilst loving being involved in tennis, many have talked about feeling isolated, self-critical, and sometimes struggling to build a support network around them. Unsurprisingly, many people find it hard to speak out and get help. But if we had a broken arm, we would do so straight away. So what’s different about mental illness? It continues to carry a stigma of weakness and inability to cope.
In British Tennis, we are trying to challenge this perception. We are raising awareness across tennis and one of our biggest recent successes has been our mental health workshops with our elite juniors. By creating an open, non-judgmental environment, checking in on each other, giving each other a bit of time to speak out, sign-posting to useful websites and helplines, and in some cases our GPs, we can all make a real difference.
Naomi Cavaday and Oli Jones are British Tennis Mental Health Ambassadors. Incredibly bravely, they are telling their stories to help challenge the stigma of mental health. Here’s a bit more from them in their own words.
From Naomi: “Having been an LTA Mental Health Ambassador alongside Oli Jones for the past 12 months I have had the opportunity to reach out to so many people. One day looking after our mental health will be considered equally as important as looking after our physical health and I am immensely proud of the work I am doing with the LTA to make that happen.”
From Oli: “I am truly honoured to have been asked to be a Mental Health Ambassador. Raising mental health awareness is so close to my heart as I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2012. The last few months have been busy raising awareness of the real issues that surround mental health especially within our great sport of tennis.”