sports

Vettel speaks out on mental health struggles


Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel said sports stars are often discouraged from discussing mental health issues, and he considers that reluctance a "weakness of society".

Vettel, who announced in late July he would step down from Formula One at the end of the year, admitted to seeking psychological support and said sport had double standards when it came to health issues of a mental nature.

"I have no problem talking about it," Vettel told German tabloid Bild.

"If you break a leg, you go to the doctor. It would be wise to see what prevents me from breaking my leg in the first place.

"We don't seem to be doing the same when it comes to mental health though. That is a weakness of our society, because something like (mental health issues) are often seen as a weakness."

Vettel, 35, in action at the Dutch Grand Prix on Sunday in Zandvoort, won four titles on a row with Red Bull from 2010 to 2013.

The German said drivers would discuss mental health with each other but felt reluctant to air their feelings in the public sphere.

"It's normal to have self-doubt. I hear so many stories from others who have gone through something similar," Vettel said in the interview published Friday.

"Something like that is sometimes missing in sport. We have a cult of heroism in certain roles, which is great.

"But we all are human and go through the same things and the same challenges. There's no Superman or Superwoman, except on TV."

Vettel, who drives for Aston Martin after a six-year stint at Ferrari, has 53 career wins.

He is tied with Alain Prost as the fourth most successful F1 driver in history after Michael Schumacher and Hamilton (seven titles each) and Juan Manuel Fangio (five).

Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton also recently opened on up on his mental health issues, speaking publicly in March 2022 about his "tough year" on social media.

"Hard some days to stay positive," said the British driver.

"I have struggled mentally and emotionally for a long time, to keep going is a constant effort but we have to keep fighting – we have so much to do and to achieve."

Speaking with German tabloid Bild in 2021, Belgian-British driver Lando Norris said he had undergone therapy.

"I've spoken to a psychologist in the past. I've done that for many years and now I've found a way for myself to deal with and process my problems."

These F1 stars are by no means alone in opening up about an issue that was rarely if ever touched upon in the public arena before.

England cricket captain Ben Stokes felt the need to take a lengthy sabbatical to deal with personal issues, legendary US gymnast Simone Biles's Tokyo Olympics campaign was over before it had begun due to nerves, and this month Australia rugby captain Michael Hooper declared he was not in the right frame of mind to face Argentina the day before a Test.


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