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Bess and Trescothick talk mental health

Dom Bess has urged young cricketers across the country to “talk about their mental health if they feel they need to”, as he spoke to Professional Cricketers’ Trust Director Marcus Trescothick about his own struggles during 2020 Mental Health Awareness Week.

The 22-year-old, who shared a dressing room with the Somerset legend between 2016-19, covered topics such as anxiety, homesickness, reaching out for help and more in an honest and open discussion with his friend and former teammate.

Trescothick himself is something of a trailblazer when it comes to the issue of mental health in sport. The ex-England opener has publicly spoken about his own battles throughout his playing career. He is now a Director of the Trust, the players’ charity which offered mental health support to 85 PCA members – including Dom Bess and 39 other current players – in 2019 alone.

Trescothick’s experiences have inspired many of his fellow professionals to publicly talk about their own mental health issues, and the 44-year-old has been a mentor for Bess both on and off the pitch over the past four years.

During the pair’s conversation, Bess admitted that his career to date might have seemed like “plain sailing” to the outside world. The spinner has been a regular feature for Somerset since the age of 18, and made his Test debut for England against Pakistan at Lord’s in 2018, scoring 57 in the second innings.

Although he has experienced periods out of the Somerset side, Bess made a memorable return to the international set-up in January as he claimed his maiden Test five-wicket haul against South Africa in Port Elizabeth, an experience he reflects upon happily in conversation with Trescothick.

However, Bess has faced a constant unseen battle away from the field, admitting that he has suffered from anxiety issues since his schooldays.

As he recounts his story of reaching out to individuals such as Trescothick, PCA Personal Development Manager (PDM) Martin Cropper and a psychologist for support, Bess hopes he can inspire other young cricketers to do the same this Mental Health Awareness Week.

Excerpts from the conversation between Bess and Trescothick:

Bess:

“I think it’s really important to talk about mental health.

“The first time I experienced anxiety was during my school exams and I had some real struggles. I never nipped it in the bud at school and then little triggers would make me really anxious from then on.

“A big step for me was understanding that it’s ok not to be ok. When I understood that I realised that it was ok to speak and open up.”

Trescothick:

“Mine was when I was 11 and went away with school, I just got this overwhelming feeling of anxiety and homesickness. Only when I later played for England did I get the understanding of what was really going on.

“You work out your ways of getting through it. The Trust and the PCA were massive in helping me through that. The first person I spoke to is still the same person I speak to now. It’s so crucial finding that one person who you trust.”

Bess:

“Getting someone away from the game was so helpful for me, because it was as much outside life for me as it was about cricket.

“Personal development gives me another thing to put my mind to, and our PDM Martin Cropper has been amazing for me. He’s very, very good and we’re fortunate to have him.

“I remember giving you a hug and crying at the last game of the 2018 season at Trent Bridge and that felt really powerful and like a really big step within my mental health battle.

“Offloading is a really hard thing to do but knowing you’ve got someone there is massive.

“I think that a lot of youngsters will be inspired by people like you and be more open with their mental health as a result.”

Professional Cricketers’ Trust Director, Ian Thomas, said:

“It’s truly inspiring to see a young, successful player like Dom come out and speak publicly about this issue during Mental Health Awareness Week. We’re pleased that Dom felt able to reach out to the Professional Cricketers’ Trust and the PCA for support when he needed to and we will continue to assist him whenever he might need it.

“Dom’s battles are something many of us, including our Director Marcus, can relate to. I hope that this powerful interview will give cricketers, and especially young players, the confidence they need to seek help and start that journey towards improving their mental health in the future.”

 

The Professional Cricketers’ Trust is the associated charity of the PCA, created to support the lifelong health and wellbeing of PCA members and their immediate families when they need it most. Support offered by the Trust can range from emotional counselling to the provision of specialist medical equipment and more.

In 2019 alone, the Trust supported 123 PCA members and their immediate families in medical, hardship and mental health problems, including Bess. If you would like to make a difference and support the charity please donate via the button below.

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