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We Need To Talk

WE NEED TO TALK

…about mental health… 

We spend so much time, searching for what we want?

Building ideas of how we should be, live and aspire to. 

Thinking, 

I’ll be happy when..

I’ll be successful when…

I’ll be fulfilled when…

This feeling of wholeness however comes at the cost of me-ness. 

Are you sacrificing your true self to meet the ideals of others and society. 

In a world so obsessed with seeing others, 

Do you even SEE YOU?

1 in 4 people suffer from mental health issues, so why are we so afraid to talk about it?

It is important to understand as a player, and as a human, what mental disorders are, and how they can impact both our performance and our lives in general. 

There are many different types of mental disorders. You may have heard of some of them such as; anxiety, depression, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia and others. 

Whilst having differential impacts on the human brain and body, they can all be characterized by combinations of abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behaviour and relationships.

You check yourself right?

You check your ranking? You scroll your socials? You monitor your physical appearance? 

If you feel something is a bit off physically, you check yourself, right…

But, how often do you check up on your mind?

Emotions are like the weather. You may experience elation, intense joy, sadness, or anger, these emotions are forever changing. 

It’s extremely easy to allow yourself to enter a vegetative mental state whilst going through the emotions of your training day in, day out. 

However, it’s also extremely important to take note of the emotions you are experiencing, especially if you are noticing yourself being moody regularly, reacting aggressively or more intensely to poor play, distancing from peers and family, feeling physically unwell or just in a constant state of sadness, stress or worry. 

Mental health is silent, whilst esports is overbearingly loud. 

The esports training environment can be detrimental to your mental health. 

Competitive esports is hard. You are playing amongst many stresses. Not just the stress of the competitive scene, but also the stress from your peers, family, sponsors, fans and yourself. 

For a lot of teams, the set-up of ‘team houses’ still exists whereby players live and breathe with each other. They wake up in the morning, eat together, train together, practice together, scrim together 24/7 with little to no personal space or time on a weekly basis. This daily process can become very intense, and is not surprising that mental health disorders are prevalent in these environments, particularly when mismanaged and not spoken about. 

Recently we are seeing more and more esport players talk about their experiences with mental health disorders. It’s important to remember that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

Many people experience exactly what you do, and it’s only when you speak up, and take control of your mental health disorder, rather than let it take control of you, that you realize there are others out there that can support you. 

They have been there. Let them help you. 

One such player, Justin ‘Plup’ McGrath, a favorite to win the Evolution Championship Series last year was defeated right before the final, and experienced a panic attack on stage. As distressing as it is to see a person suffer such an episode, it highlights the immense stress and pressure that the professional esports scene can place on an individual on the big stage. 

(To learn more about stress and some coping strategies, take a look at some previous articles in the blog) 

Check yo’self before you wreck yo’self. 

As spectators and critics we elude ourselves from the harsh reality of competitive sport, we highlight champions as prevailing through thick and thin and possessing this concept of ‘mental toughness’. Mental toughness epitomizes the irrational concept of the unbreakability of the mind. 

We. Are. Breakable. 

The more we break, the more we learn. The better we become. But unfortunately, at elite level, in such a new and fast-rising scene, the focus is on being the best and in order to do so, being this unbreakable force. However, that is not what mental toughness is. 

Mental toughness is, facing adversity and overcoming. Failing and learning. Failing again and learning even more. We should embrace failure, but instead, we critique failure, we punish it. 

#itsokaynottobeokay

Depression is on the rise in the esports world, alongside anxiety and eventual burnout. We must, as coaches and mental health professionals seek to facilitate healthy careers for esport athletes. 

However, it is also important for esport players to speak. Do not suffer in silence. When you speak up, things can be changed, help can be given. It is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of mental toughness – you facing your adversity. 

In a world obsessed with seeing others, SEE YOU, and your friends. 

Check on your peers, sometimes, it’s the happiest on the outside that are suffering the most. 

Speak to your coach or mental health professionals.

Some orgs out there that you can learn more from are: 

Anxiety gaming (specific to gamers): https://anxietygaming.com/

Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/

 

Kate O’Keeffe

Former performance coach of the professional league of legends team, Fnatic. She has 11 years of experience teaching, coaching and performance consulting to an array of traditional sports at all levels including; swimming, ice hockey, chess, athletics, Gaelic football and hockey.

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