‘I was afraid to go to a psychiatrist’: Virat Kohli, Abhinav Bindra & other sport stars who opened up about mental health
Here is what Indian sports stars have said about mental health challenges
"I've gone through a phase in my career where I've felt like it was the end of the world. In England 2014, I just didn't know what to do, what to say to anyone, how to speak, how to communicate. To be honest, I couldn't have said I am not feeling great mentally and I want to get away from the game, because you never know how that's taken. I think these things should be of great importance because if you think that a player is important enough, for the team and for Indian cricket to go forward, I think they should be looked after," Kohli said at a press conference before the Test match against Bangladesh.
Indian Olympic gold medal winner Abhinav Bindra had spoken earlier this year of his struggles to manage his mind. The former shooter said at an event, "I abused my passion. I did not maintain a balance. By abuse, I mean the single-minded focus on one thing. It is not the way to go about. It definitely gives you success, but in the end, a gold medal is not everything in life. If you find the right balance, you will see that you will be able to be at your best. I was a very good athlete and was always performing my best in training, but I always struggled in competition, I never liked competition. I put all my eggs in one basket, and there was a lot of anxiety. I was never the best version in competitions I could have been."
At the same forum, golfer Anisha Padukone had also shared her challenges that mentally made her edgy. "Growing up in a sporting family, being exceptional was always an underlying emotion. One of the challenges for me was to accept that it is okay to fail. And, for many athletes, it should be highlighted that it is okay not to succeed. I feel failure teaches you a lot more than victory. Accepting failure should be the first step for athletes and these could teach us a lot more. It is important to have some support system of coaches and family members who can help bear down the pressure of these athletes," she said.
Indian women's cricket captain in T20s, Harmanpreet Kaur a few months ago urged the BCCI to appoint a psychologist for the team. "We have requested the BCCI for someone like a sports psychologist, who can travel with us. We have spoken to coach as well. Nowadays, the pressure is high. You need someone to discuss things when they are not fine," she had said on her request.
Maninder Singh, former Indian cricketer who bowled spin shared how he went from glory to addiction because of mental hurdles early this year. "Then I was a name. I was scared if I went to a psychologist or a psychiatrist, people would write in the newspapers and all that. So I showed a brave front. But from inside I was gone," he said in an interview.