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A note on the issue: The difficult road to mental health

We are often quick to tear down sportspersons, rarely realising that their single-minded pursuit of a goal can take a toll

The mental health and emotional well-being of sportspersons is only talked about in hushed tones
The mental health and emotional well-being of sportspersons is only talked about in hushed tones

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One of our food columnists this week refers to James Clear’s line about processes being far more important than goals while talking about the importance of eating right. Years before Clear’s Atomic Habits had become a staple of the self-help section, a friend had talked about why compound interest shouldn’t be taught in math class. “It should be taught as a life philosophy,” she grumbled. “Everything is compound interest”—a little bit today adds up to a huge amount later on.

Also read: The mental health of Indian athletes

It’s that kind of incremental and tireless effort that sportspersons put in to reach the big league. Towards the end of last year, there was a flood of articles about 2021 being one of India’s best years in sports, counting our Olympic tally, among other achievements. While we cheer and deify sportspersons, we are just as quick to tear them down, rarely realising that they spend a lifetime practising, and that the single-minded pursuit of a goal can take a toll. Elite athletes, from Sakshi Malik and H.S. Prannoy to Vinesh Phogat, tell Lounge what it’s like to live and work in a world where only achievement is prized and any failure is a public shaming. 

The mental health and emotional well-being of sportspersons is only talked about in hushed tones, and seeking help is frowned upon. While there has been a gradual change in attitudes towards mental wellness, the pandemic has brought the focus to such conversations.

On the other side of the fence are the fans. Whether it’s sport or film, it’s the fan that drives the performer—but what drives the fan? In an interview to Lounge, Shrayana Bhattacharya, author of Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh—a book that is fun to read while bringing together gender and economics—explains how stars and celebrity myths aren’t necessarily created. Instead, ordinary people choose to construct these superstars for themselves, seeing in the celebrity’s journey opportunity, aspiration and inspiration. It’s a different kind of mind game.

Write to the Lounge editor at shalini.umachandran@htlive.com 

@shalinimb

Also read: The prime minister who’s remembered for all the wrong reasons

  • FIRST PUBLISHED
    22.01.2022 | 08:15 AM IST

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