Time to Talk Day is the nation’s biggest mental health conversation. Happening every year, it’s a day for friends, families, communities, and workplaces to come together to talk, listen and change lives.
The more conversations we have, the better life is for everyone. Talking about mental health isn’t always easy and sometimes it’s even harder to say how you really feel. But a conversation has the power to change lives.
We spoke with World Number 66, PSA Foundation Wellness Ambassador and Sporting Chance Ambassador Tom Walsh, about the importance of opening up and his own mental health journey.
“As an athlete its a magnified situation. Obviously, talking specifically about squash, like you shut the door when you’re inside [the court], the top guys are inside these glass boxe playing a gladiatorial sport where there’s no hiding place.
You’ve got people watching you from all angles. So it’s a magnified situation, thoughts and feelings are very intensified on the court.
Dealing with mental health as an athlete in competition especially is massive because you’re there trying to get a result, trying to win against someone of an equal ability to you and someone who wants to beat you and you want to beat them.
So you’re trying to control your thoughts whilst playing sport to a world class level, it’s very, very challenging.
Every challenge that a non-athlete, has athletes have to. We also have that extra intensity.
At the time I didn’t realize there was a link between the PSA Foundation and Sporting Chance. I was in a bit of a I’d say a bit of a hole. I was struggling. It got to the point where I realized I needed help and I didn’t really know where to start
Sporting Chance got back to me, I had a phone call with Clare on the phone. If you’re part of the PSA, your services are funded.
Sporting Chance services are provided for current and retired professional squash players competing on the PSA Tour, fully funded by the PSA Foundation.
One-to-one counselling is a form of talking therapy designed to move individuals forward to a place of balanced emotional wellbeing.
To facilitate treatment, Sporting Chance has a large network of highly qualified and fully insured counsellors. All the counsellors in their network operate within guidelines and principles established with Sporting Chance; some are ex-professional sportsmen or women who have trained as therapists or counsellors after retiring from sport.
I started therapy with one of the counsellors. They found me a counsellor close to my home in Brighton and I’d never, never had anything before so I was a little bit apprehensive going in my bit of a proud male thing and I didn’t need it. But knowing I did. I went in and I never looked back
They spoke to me about becoming an ambassador. I was like of course, this would be amazing. Being a role model and advocate for mental health is a big one.
It’s important to break down that perception amongst athletes, that you’re weak if you go to therapy weak, if you reach out for help: it’s the complete opposite, I think you’re stronger.
They [Sporting Chance] arguably saved my career.
Tom is also a PSA Foundation Health and Wellness Ambassador .
The PSA Foundation provides a health and wellness programme which brings together players to tackle the well-being challenges on Tour.
Professional sport presents unique pressures for athletes and the aim for this programme is the players will spearhead a Tour wide effort to share struggles, advice, experiences and support each other.
This initiative is designed to provide an ongoing process of safeguarding the health and wellbeing of players on Tour.
At the PSA Foundation, we believe that there is no better people to help inform on the challenges of competing on Tour than the players themselves and the health and wellness programme is testament to that.
A good friend of mine Amanda Sobhy from Florida got me involved as a PSA Foundation Health and Wellness Ambassador
I had no idea that The PSA Foundation had Wellness Ambassadors
There’s a WhatsApp chat for the ambassadors, and I was just sitting next to her at the at the club and her phone went off and she’s like ‘Why are you not in this?’
So i was like yeah get me involved! It was something I was really happy to jump on board on.
I feel at any given tournament there will probably be one ambassador there, which is great for everyone- players starting out like, even let’s say a top ten player: they’re not immune to like a mental health issue it can affect anyone at any time.
The move [to Florida] it was very gradual but also very fast at the same time.
It was that I entered a tournament here in February 22, a small PSA event and my coach in England, Adam Fuller he used to play on the tour and he was coached by a guy called Pete Cheshire. Pete Cheshire is the squash director at Kinetic Squash.
So I entered this Tournament never been to Florida, didn’t actually know who Pete was. Now I’m very, very close to him. He’s one of one of my closest friends in Florida.
I ended up winning the tournament, my second title at the time, and you always have fond memories of where you win.
In January 2023- I got on a one way flight from England to Florida and within like a month of being here- it made sense to me. I’m very happy here right now.”
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