ISLAMABAD-World Mental Health Day is a reminder to the grave challenges posed by mental health issues to the cricketers across the globe and the need of taking remedial measures against its spread in Pakistan cricket.

What makes cricketers more prone to the mental issues, it is believed by the cricket experts, is the intrinsic insecurity and anxiety of the game while intolerance of failure and the long gap between the games also adds to the pressure which inhabits mental health challenges. Sometimes, in a sport like cricket, professional athletes take too much pressure of the media attention and criticism in the face of failure. 

Though Pakistan Cricket Boad (PCB) has not reported any mental health cases among its cricketers in domestic or international levels so far but, during the past one year, some high-profile Australian cricketers have been reported to face mental health crisis including Glenn Maxwell, Nic Maddinson, Young batsman Will Pucovski, Nicole Bolton and Moises Henriques and they were obliged to take a break from all kinds of sports activities.

Many English cricketers including Marcus Trescothick, Jonathon Trott, Andrew Flintoff faced mental health issues during their times and had to take leave from cricket while former English and Yorkshire wicketkeeper Davis Bairstow, father of current English T20 wicketkeeper batsman Johnny Bairstow, committed suicide in 1998. Indian Captain and world’s leading batsman Virat Kohli, in an interview, also described grappling with mental health challenges during the 2014 England series

Mental health issues have been present in societies since times immemorial and suicidal tendencies besides drug and alcohol addiction among cricketers are not a new phenomenon. According to a study published by SAGE journal ‘a range of factors contribute to the psychiatric problems that cricketers have encountered. Educating cricketers may be a beneficials strategy’. According to this study some 20 suicides among 2794 male test cricketers occurred between 1877 to 2014 and health, financial and relationship issues were prominent causes in these cases.

The Cricket Australia (CA) has hired the services of a full-time sports psychologist to work with their team in order to avoid such cases. PCB Director Media Samiul Hasan, here on Saturday, said the PCB is very sensitive regarding the mental health of its cricketers and it holds regular lectures and briefings to the players on mental health. He said the players are urged to report any mental health issue to their doctors.

To a question, Sami said a psychologist holds regular sessions with players on regular basis while the services of specialist are hired on the occasion of major tournaments and series to save cricketers from mental health issues. “There are no reported mental health cases among our cricketers so far and PCB is committed to duty of care with reference to its players,” he responded. He said PCB is committed to raise awareness among the masses as well to help people overcome such challenges.

According to Dr Ehsna ul Haque, a psychiatrist, social acknowledgement, strong family support system, zero tolerance of drugs and religion are the main factors of minimal mental health issues among the cricketers in our country. 

The World Mental Health Day calls for right kind of education so that cricketers feel free to share their mental health problems without inhibition which is the right way to overcome the challenge.