I remember earlier in the year that former England rugby player Jonny Wilkinson was quoted as saying that raising awareness about mental health is “everyone’s responsibility”.
He believes it’s right to talk about the anxiety he experienced in the past so as to help others who have to deal with it. I’ve long been a big fan of Jonny, even before he scored that amazing winning kick for England against Australia in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final. But his honesty and candour when talking about how challenging he found dealing with anxiety at various stages of his career is quite inspiring.
Jonny has been quoted as saying that he could often be a “shivering wreck” before important matches and would find it hard to compose himself in the changing room. He hopes that by speaking out about his own experiences others in a similar situation will realise that they can “get through it”.
Wilkinson thinks there is a stigma around mental health and an association with weakness. I couldn’t agree more by the way.
As he says, “ There is something on the other side and you can help yourself and get through it. My message is that you can get out. For me it has been a real journey, learning how to deal with anxiety and what I can do to help myself.”
“there is a stigma around mental health”
For me as an Occupational Therapist and for all the team at KMA there is always hope. What people facing mental health challenges need above all is support and someone to hold up the light of hope for them.
Jonny feels that while there had been a lot of progress in promoting good mental health more could be done to help those who suffer in silence. “Mental health is everyone’s responsibility,” he says. “Lots of people are going through difficult times and not saying anything. It is a journey for everyone, that everyone should be interested in and that everyone should be part of.”
Incidentally, Wilkinson is also a great believer in understanding how diet can have a positive impact on physical and mental. “I changed my diet 10 years ago and it changed me dramatically.” He says, “My own mental and physical health has been boosted…”
From an Occupational Therapist’s perspective diet is of course fundamental to both physical and mental health. There is a strong and direct correlation between them. Many thanks to Jonny Wilkinson CBE for his inspiring words.
All of us at KMA and in the world of occupational therapy think he’s doing very important work and is a great ambassador to the cause.
About Jonny Wilkinson
Jonny Wilkinson is generally considered to be one of the best ruby union players of all time. During his successful career he played for Newcastle Falcons, England, British and Irish Lions and Toulon. In 2009 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by University of Surrey for services to the sports industry. He retired from rugby at the end of the 2013-14 season. He currently works for ITV Sport as a studio pundit about the game he loves.