Former US Open champion, Dominic Thiem in his recent appearance on the Tennis United series explained how mental health issues are still a taboo in professional sport. He believes that mental health is as important as physical health.
The Austrian has had plenty of struggles during his career. He suffered from lack of motivation after winning his first Grand Slam in 2019. His lack of motivation saw him drop down the ladder and badly affected his form.
Thiem addressed how mental health issues are still considered a difficult topic to talk about but with players taking their stance it is getting better with time.
When asked whether mental health issues are a stigma in professional sport, Thiem said, “Probably, yes,” Thiem said. “But I think it’s getting better and better. I guess that for many athletes, it’s still a difficult topic and it shouldn’t be. I think mental health is as important as physical health just because you can’t see what’s going on in your brain, or in your head, it doesn’t mean that everything is good up there.”
“We are feeling the same like other people, and all other people are going through difficulties, both in their profession and in their private life, and in general,” he added.
He feels that when players speak about their problems it makes their life a lot easier. Thiem also adds how each and every player goes through a phase where he or she is feeling a bit low. So he feels speaking it out can lighten the mood to some extent.
“Nobody is always happy or always feeling good,” he said. “Just because we’re travelling the world, we’re in the nicest cities, and playing, not now, but usually in front of 10000 people, it doesn’t mean that we’re day in day out happy. I think it should be easier to say that and to speak about it.
“I think that athletes can be good role models for other people. And I think it should be as easy to talk about mental issues as about physical problems,” Thiem added.
However, the 28-year-old revealed from personal experience that players despite having problems decide to not speak on it especially during the course of the season. Thiem feels that the narrative about mental health should change quickly.
“Like, if you can’t compete for some weeks because you’re injured with your knee or with your elbow, you also say it openly to the press and to everybody. But if you’re struggling with motivation, or in your private life, or mentally in general, nobody tells it openly, maybe it should change,” he concluded.