Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Jonathan Trott saga shows stigma surrounding depression

Jonathan Trott
Jonathan Trott

It wasn't David Warner's sledging that led to Jonathan Trott's abrupt exit from the Ashes. Trott was said to be suffering from stress. So stigmatised is the term "depression" we had to find a polite way of sending Trott home.

Professional athletes are operating in extremis at a level of intensity and scrutiny beyond the comprehension of ordinary folk. Any weakness or frailty, be it technical or mental, is ruthlessly exposed.

Some, like Trott's fellow cricketer Marcus Trescothick and footballer Stan Collymore have spoken openly about their struggles at the top end of the food chain. The wonder is more sportsmen and women do not suffer a similar unravelling.

The cricketing life imposes its own unique strains given the long stretches in which participants are removed from their domestic setting.

We should thank the sledgers for bringing into view an illness that afflicts millions and is too often filed and forgotten under the sanitised banner "mental health issue."

In the main the hardened nature of the alpha male protects against the inane chirping of inadequate bullies in the sporting context.

Most laugh it off or meet fire with fire. Warner is self-evidently an offensive, boorish creature, but is a symptom not the cause of cricket's dated attachment to outmoded rules of machismo.

The real courage inheres in Trott, admitting to a condition that carries unacceptable stigma and returning home to fight a battle that for many is never completely won. We wish him well in his struggle.