Alyssa Healy opens up on the Mental Health Challenges faced by Athletes

“Sport is all about teamwork and camaraderie. The more we can stick together as a team and look after one another, the better”- Movember ambassador Alyssa Healy. 

WBBL season 7 witnessed Perth Scorchers winning their maiden WBBL title after beating Adelaide Strikers in a record-breaking Finals at the Opus Stadium in Perth, Australia. While Scorchers celebrated their first win, it was a disappointing season for the defending champions, Sydney Sixers.

 

Perth Scorchers players greeting crowd at the stadium. Creator: Stefan Gosatti, Stefan Gosatti | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2021 Getty Images
Perth Scorchers players greeting crowd at the stadium. Creator: Stefan Gosatti, Stefan Gosatti | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2021 Getty Images

 

The two-time WBBL winners saw themselves at the bottom of the table with just 4 wins from 14 matches. Led by one of the best Australian all-rounders, Ellyse Perry, Sixers appeared to be a very strong team with some great names in the squad – Australian Wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy, Indian youngster Shafali Verma to name a few but unfortunately didn’t have a season they would have looked forward to.

Though Healy wasn’t in the best of her potential in WBBL, she has been utilizing her time quite well, raising funds for mental health charity Movember which aims to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25 percent. As per stats mentioned in an article on abc.net.au, In Australia, three out of four suicides are men, and more than six men die by suicide each day.

 

Alyssa Healy. PC: AAP: Scott Barbour
Alyssa Healy. PC: AAP: Scott Barbour

 

The same article shared Healy’s reason to join the cause, wherein she said, “I’ve got a lot of great men in my life that I don’t want to see die young,”

“I want to see these men in my life as long as possible.”

Further commenting on the role sports can play in supporting someone struggling with their mental health and appreciating the high-profile athletes who open up about their struggles, considering it as a normal conversation.

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“Sport is all about teamwork and camaraderie,” she said. “The more we can stick together as a team and look after one another, the better.

“Normally, when an athlete sticks their hand up and says they’re struggling, it’s right in the face of the media, but if we [as teammates] knew about it behind closed doors first, maybe we could stop it from reaching that final point.”

She also talked about the mental health pressures faced by sportswomen especially now when women’s sports have started getting increasing attention. Taking the example of WBBL where all games were broadcast on television, she said that it is a good sign, but it does come with a high level of scrutiny as well with people watching and commenting their own views on what players do throughout the day regardless of taking their level of professionalism into consideration given, they have other responsibilities to look after as well.

The next issue Healy took up was social media abuse faced by women which obviously disturbs one’s self-esteem and affects their mental health. Having said that, she did mention the benefit social media brings in terms of publicity of sports as well the players, but the danger accompanied by it can’t be left hidden. Every individual has a different opinion of a particular statement and what might be a joke for one, maybe disturbing for someone else.

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Healy personally considers “call it out” as a way to deal with such abuse.

She said, “I like to respond to people every now and then, which probably gets me in trouble more often than not.

“For instance, the other day, someone had a crack at me about smiling after a loss. So, I said, ‘I’m trying to enjoy my sport, and [my form] is at rock bottom at the minute, quite literally.”

“But if I can be seen to be enjoying myself, and make sure the young kids around me are having a great time, then, you know, it’s just a game at the end of the day.”

She concluded by saying, “It’s on the individual to think before they post or tweet or message. Before you hit send, make sure that you’d be happy to receive that feedback from someone else.

“There’s people out there that see it as a sort of faceless platform, just to throw abuse and criticism around. And that’s really not OK.”

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