Guidance scheme launched
Former England opener Marcus Trescothick believes cricket is leading the way in dealing with depression and addictive behaviour in sport after the launch of the Professional Cricketers' Association's latest initiative.
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The PCA have launched a series of six online 'Mind Matters' tutorials, covering subjects including alcohol and drug abuse, gambling, plus anxiety and suicide, and offering advice to members on how and where to seek help.
The tutorials are mainly presented by Trescothick, who has suffered from depression and anxiety throughout his career.
Michael Yardy, who flew home from England's 2011 World Cup campaign due to depression, and Warwickshire wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose, another player to suffer depression, also present a section on the topic.
Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff and ex-Essex and Northamptonshire bowler Darren Cousins, who attempted suicide in March 2011 following his retirement, have also made contributions to the initiative.
When Somerset batsman Trescothick returned home from England's tour of India early in 2006, and from the Ashes tour of Australia later the same year, it brought the taboo issue of depression within sport firmly into the spotlight.
Since then great strides have been made and Trescothick believes the latest scheme will prove of great value to those in need.
Trescothick, who played 76 Tests for England, said: "I spoke to Jason Ratcliffe (assistant chief executive) at the PCA about it and I was delighted to support the idea.
"I know lots of people contributed to it but I spent two hours a day doing voiceovers and I was really pleased to help out.
"Cricket is doing so much work to help the players, we have seen recently that a lot of players have had different problems and I think we are leading the way in this area and hopefully we can continue to help players and other sports.
"One of the current problems for some players is they may not feel comfortable with the idea of talking to a psychologist or a doctor, and in a way this can maybe help them to diagnose themselves, to realise they are struggling with something which is more than feeling down.
"This can give them that knowledge and from there they can get experts involved in a more hands-on way."
The PCA already employs six regional Personal Development Managers, who help players to plan and prepare for their futures. All current players received personal development plans during the summer with the hope of better preparing players for when their careers come to an end.
LLP Consulting, a company specialising in mental well-being and performance, offer full clinical and psychological support to all PCA members in conjunction with the PCA's Confidential Helpline and The PCA Benevolent Fund.
And Trescothick, whose 2008 autobiography 'Coming Back to Me' won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award for its account of his illness, admits he wishes measures like the one unveiled today had been available to him.
"There is lots more understanding and more procedures to help people and I would have loved some of them to be in place during my experiences," he said.
"As I said, we are leading the way, be that in dealing with drugs, gambling, depression or anxiety, there is a massive difference from just a few years ago.
"It has helped the process of breaking apart the taboo that sportspeople have to be mentally infallible. We can do more to make things better again but it is 100% better than it was a few years ago. It is less and less of a taboo."
The gradual sea change in the views on problems such as depression was clearly shown in the furious reaction of many to Sir Geoffrey Boycott's criticism of Yardy's return home from the World Cup.
"That was great, that is how it should be," said Trescothick.
"It's tough and it drags you down. I did not want to leave the tours I came home from, but I had no choice.
"I wrote my autobiography in 2008 and even now I still get people coming up to me who will tell me they criticised me when I left those tours because they did not understand what I was going through. I have no trouble accepting that as at one stage I was one of those people."