Mindfulness

Fitmind, Who are we? What do we do?

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Fitmind is a community of youth athletes who support one another as they grow and develop their confidence and resilience to face any obstacle and to maximise their full potential both on and off the field.

Fitmind empowers youth athletes with a positive mindset, by providing them with strategies and techniques that will motivate and inspire them and their parents to take positive action when it comes to mental health both on and off the field. Fitmind aims to motivate youth athletes to utilise the programs and strategies, so they can learn how to deal with difficult challenges they face.

Fitmind will build a library of useful resources for self help practice and use future apps to empower change, mindfulness and harness peak performance.

What’s important about fitmind now is that we not only raise awareness to remove the stigma surrounding mental health but also to use it as early intervention and prevention of mental health issues from arising.

So what constitutes an athlete?

The legendary University of Oregon track and field coach, and Nike co-founder, Bill Bowerman said, “If you have a body, you are an athlete”

Everyone’s an athlete.

Fitmind aims to help all athletes, across all sports building a supportive and safe community using sport for good.

Athletes across all sports can and have been affected with mental health issues. There are great examples of role models from all sports, countries, genders, races who have battled mental health and are using their voice to help others. Here are some great stories and examples across a number of sports:

Danny Rose — Soccer

England defender Danny Rose has been praised for opening up about his battle with depression. He was sidelined for over eight months last year after a knee injury, during which time his uncle committed suicide. The 27-year-old said: ‘It’s no secret that I’ve been through a testing time at Tottenham this season, which led to me seeing a psychologist, and I was diagnosed with depression, which nobody knows about, and I had to get away from Tottenham.’

He described taking medication for a while during a ‘hard’ period. It’s unusual for a current elite player to describe their mental health issues openly like this given the pressures they are under in their role, so for him to do so just a week before playing in the World Cup has been described as a ‘game changer’. After having medical treatment, Rose says he is now in a positive place ahead of the tournament.

Tyson Fury — Boxing

In 2015 Tyson Fury defeated Wladimir Klitschko to become the world heavyweight boxing champion, fulfilling his lifelong dream. But feeling no subsequent sense of purpose he spiralled into madness. “When you’ve won all the world title belts there’s nothing else after that,” he said. He fell into depression which was closely followed by addiction. He looked for salvation in alcohol and drugs and. “I’ve been living like a rock star. But that ain’t a great thing.” He received a drugs ban, and suicidal thoughts led him to nearly drive his Ferrari off a bridge at 190mph.

It’s a harmful misconception that the mentally ill don’t recover. To many fans, Fury joined previous sporting heroes in a spiral of addiction and attempted recovery. Athletes return from pulled hamstrings and fractured metatarsals but mental scars take longer to heal, if at all, they said.

Yet 12 months later and Fury had shed 10 stone, along with his demons, and was taking on heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Help had come in the form of a psychiatrist, a psychotherapist, family support, regular exercise, abstinence and renewed faith.

Michael Phelps — Swimming

Despite his unprecedented success as an athlete, Phelps went through plenty of dark moments. After revealing the depths of his depression — and even thoughts of suicide. In 2014, it got so bad that he locked himself in his bedroom and stayed there for days.

“During those days, I had thoughts of not wanting to be alive,” Phelps said. “The longer I stayed in my room by myself, I thought there has to be another way.”

That’s when Phelps checked himself in for inpatient mental health treatment.

“As an athlete, I learned that we’re supposed to be these big macho people that don’t have any problems, and we’re not supposed to show weakness, but that’s so wrong. I’m so thankful that I can ask for help now,” he explained.

Phelps is hoping to make a difference for those who are dealing with similar issues. The 23-time Olympic gold medalist announced a partnership with Talkspace, which provides online therapy, and said he considers it a higher calling than anything he ever did as a swimmer.

Greg Inglis — Rugby League

The months of recovery from surgery have given Inglis the opportunity to reflect on his decision to confront his mental demons, which he continues to do, and go public about it. After being blown away by the feedback from everyone, he has realised just how much influence he has — even when he isn’t showing up an opposition defence.

“Obviously going through what I went through … I’m getting people coming up to me saying ‘thank-you’,” he said.

“I did this to help myself, I didn’t think that I would touch that many people’s lives or families and help them in a way. I just learnt how much power that I can actually have by voicing my opinion. I didn’t actually realise that until I went through it.

“Last year I obviously had my battles with mental depression and I’m obviously still keeping on top of that. I have people I can have a chat to when I’m feeling a bit down. You’ve got to continue the therapy. You’re never out of it, even though you think you’re fine. I think you’ve still got to continue it and that’s what I’m doing.”

Lance “Buddy” Franklin — AFL

The AFL’s biggest star, Lance Franklin, has described how sharing his mental health battles has instilled in him a genuine sense of self-esteem. Scrutinised as much as any athlete in Australia, the 29-year-old Sydney forward says going public about his condition is the best decision he has ever made.

The Sydney Swans star also had some advice for those facing their own mental health battles.

“That’s the biggest thing for anyone to do. To put the hand up and go ‘I need the help’. If you are struggling then I definitely recommend that you ask for that help. It’ll change your life.”

As you can see Mental Health is an illness that can affect any athletes from any sport no matter how good you are or how talented you may be. The common theme with the above athletes is that it is possible to overcome Mental Health issues and talking about these issues have raised awareness and helped them through tough times. By talking about mental health athletes are sharing problems and working through them together, along with friends, family, coaches, teammates, psychologists etc. but the first step is to talk about it.

Get in touch through social media and let us know what sport you play, why you play and who your role models are. Also, check out our website for more posts like this. If things ever get too much and you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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