Australian Cricketer Glenn Maxwell is reportedly taking a break from cricket to focus on his mental health. According to Cricket Australia’s Team psychologist Dr Michael Lloyd, “Glenn Maxwell has been experiencing some difficulties with regards to his mental health. As a result, he will spend a short time away from the game.” It is very courageous of the 31-year-old all-rounder to not only put his prospects in international cricket on hold but to agree to let the truth be put out as it is in front of the world. How many promising professionals would dare to openly say that they are taking a break from work because they have mental health issues? Moreover, how many will choose to prioritise their mental health over success, money and the lure of a steady paycheck?

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Glenn Maxwell is taking a break from cricket to focus on his mental health.
  • It is very rare that a person lets it out in the world that they are taking a sabbatical to focus on mental well-being.
  • The stigma around mental health issues keeps people from speaking about their crisis openly.
  • No one should feel ashamed or have to lie about their condition to avoid personal or professional consequences.

How many promising professionals would dare to openly say that they are taking a break from work because they have mental health issues

The taboo around mental health issues is still very strong, despite all the attempts to raise awareness about them over the last few years. Yes we do acknowledge the existence of depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc., but we always look at it from a third person’s perspective. We still live in denial that someone very close to us or even we ourselves may be dealing with a mental health crisis. So, while we are talking about mental health, we are largely clueless regarding how to deal with the crisis it may lead to, and why it needs to take precedence over everything else.

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The first struggle for anyone dealing with a mental health issue is to come to terms with it themselves and then tell it to others. We are still unsure about what kind of personal and professional repercussions such a revelation can bring us and the hesitation is totally legitimate. The society and workplace largely remain steeped in stigma around mental health. While we may not question a person’s capability to lead a normal life or give their best at work if, say, they have diabetes or hypertension, many would indeed be doubtful if a person says he or she has depression. Such an outlook prompts people to push back their crisis, to the point that it becomes almost unbearable to deal with. Even if they have to take a break from work to seek help and sort out their issue, they choose to lie about the reason behind their sabbatical, because mental health stigmas follow you for a lifetime and sadly, such news travels very fast.

Isn’t it disheartening that a person has to bear the guilt of being deceptive, because we as a society refuse to be more accepting of people dealing with mental health issues?

So, instead of putting the cause behind taking a break from work as mental health struggles a person would rather say that they need a break, or are pursuing higher studies, or have a physical illness or need to tend to their loved ones. Isn’t it disheartening that a person has to bear the guilt of being deceptive, because we as a society refuse to be more accepting of people dealing with mental health issues? Doesn’t our approach and the ensuing shame only make matters worse for them?

Perhaps with Glenn choosing to put it out in the open, more people will find courage to stand up for their mental health. (One is assuming that he made this decision for himself.) Well-being is our right, it is one of our most critical duties towards ourselves and those we love. This is why no one should have to hide their mental health crisis or postpone seeking help because of social stigma. Or hesitate before prioritising their mental health over work or success. We shouldn’t have to work around our jobs, and personal life to accommodate mental well-being, it should be the other way around.

Image Credit: Twitter

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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