Trescothick continues to inspire

Mental Health Week saw a number of high-profile sportsmen and women open up about a subject that, for too long, has been taboo.

These stories will not only inspire others to talk through their own struggles but also demonstrate just how far sport has come in tackling the issue.

It also shines a light on the influence of Marcus Trescothick, the former England and Somerset opener, who was one of the first sportsmen to talk honestly about an issue that was traditionally swept under the carpet.

Often at an enormous cost to those who suffered in silence, and those who cared about them most.

Dom Bess’s discussion with his former Somerset team-mate, which took place in collaboration with the Professional Cricketers Association (PCA) showed just how far cricket has come.

Gloucestershire’s Benny Howell also wrote eloquently about his life-long battle with ADHD, another topic which would not previously have been on too many sporting radars.

Hayley Jarvis is the Head of Physical Activity at mental health charity, Mind, and she believes the stories told this week demonstrate the incredible impact that Trescothick has had, not just on cricket but on the wider sporting world.

“Marcus has been great as one of the first players to talk openly,” she tells The CC. “And the PCA have also been hugely influential.

“Sport has been on a journey and the PCA has been at the forefront of that.

“Ten years ago, I would never have anticipated the Mind logo being on the back of 72 football shirts in the Football League or the England captain now paying for our logo to appear on the front of the Leyton Orient shirt next season.

“Marcus and the PCA were very early adopters of this conversation and really brought it into the forefront. They haven’t been afraid to tackle issues like addiction, and that has helped education programmes develop across different sports. Now we’re seeing all these professional bodies work together – we’ve got helplines in place and ongoing counselling for those sports people who need it.

“Before Marcus spoke out a lot of this would have been unthinkable.”

Trescothick’s autobiography, published in 2008, laid bare his issues with depression and the struggle which ultimately ended his international career. Sport has come an awfully long way since.

“Marcus and the PCA were very early adopters of this conversation and really brought it into the forefront. They haven’t been afraid to tackle issues like addiction. Now we’re seeing all these professional bodies work together – we’ve got helplines in place and ongoing counselling for those sports people who need it. Before Marcus spoke out a lot of this would have been unthinkable.”

Hayley Jarvis

Indeed, in an interview with the BBC shortly before his retirement last summer, the Somerset man admitted that he may have been able to add to his 76 Test caps had his issues surfaced later. “We live in slightly better times now where it’s a little bit more open and out in the public eye,” he said.

In no small part, that’s down to the man himself.

“Mental health is hugely important,” says Jarvis, who has been working hand-in-hand with the Football League on their own mental health programme.

“Marcus had a transformative impact – he fast forwarded the process of banishing the stigma.

“Marcus was one of the first, along with the likes of Clarke Carlisle in football. It had a huge impact then and it’s still having a huge impact now. Marcus’s story is still very relevant, and it still resonates with young cricketers today. They saw what he went through and they’ve taken it on board.”

During a period when everyone has a little more thinking time, Trescothick has given cricketers the confidence to speak out. Even in his retirement, that legacy is a gift that will keep on giving.

Mind is helping to coaches to support people experiencing mental health problems.

Please click here for more details