We don't believe that we have the right to tell anyone how to live but we do have lots of experience of supporting professional sportspeople at times in their lives when they feel they are losing their way. Whether we are delivering seminars to sports clubs and organisations promoting emotional wellbeing and the dangers of addiction or treating clients who access our counselling service or our residential facility, our message is the same - value your emotional health, be aware of the factors that can affect it adversely, and ask for our help if you need it (or even if you're not sure).
For those in the world of sport, as in any walk of life, experiencing debilitating emotional problems or developing an addiction is not uncommon. Over the course of the last year, over 300 individuals have contacted us seeking some form of support.
The overwhelming majority of people experience greater levels of stress during key life events. Moving home, births, deaths, illness, marriage and divorce are all examples of this.
This is equally true during significant developments throughout a sporting career: being released from a club, getting dropped or injured long term, suffering relegation or a chronic loss of form that lasts from one tournament to the next, the negative press coverage linked to you or your team. These are all times when stress levels increase. As people in the 'public-eye', sportspeople are more vulnerable to attack. Entrapment through drinks being spiked, bribes being offered, drunken photos and pregnancies are incidents which our clients have all experienced since we set up the charity over 15 years ago.
We have seen that during these times, sportspeople often experience difficult or negative emotions which they struggle to deal with. Reaching for the comfort of a drink, drug or a bet is a common reflex. If this is your pattern, we hope that this section of the website will make you aware of the effect of these activities on your brain, your behaviour and your body and the risks of prolonged use. We do not see these activities as long-term answers to the natural difficulties that people face.
Instead, we actively promote other ways of dealing with life events and difficulties. Seeking support, counselling and guidance is not a weakness, whatever is going on in your life, whether it's directly related to your job or you're convinced it has no impact on your performance whatsoever. Similarly, if the comfort of a drink, drug or a bet has become addictive, we have the experience and the expertise to address the problem properly.
A sportsperson who has bottled up their feelings for a long time can find incredible relief in those first words of honesty and longer term benefits in the power of sharing their feelings with another person. We would encourage anyone to examine their lives and the emotions or behaviours with which they are struggling, but to do so with the appropriate professional support.
The following pages cover some of the issues that clients approach us about and that we can help them to face. It is only a small percentage of the wide range of problems that we have helped to address, strictly confidentially, over the course of more than a decade. If you have any problem that is causing you distress, we can help.