If there’s one off-field topic that has been talked about extensively by both athletes and those following sport regularly, it’s the ‘mental health‘ of sportspersons amid choc-a-bloc event calendars, mounting expectations and time away from families.
The conversation around mental health is slowly taking on a mature hue in India, as more and more people accept the fact that it is very important to talk about things that are pulling you down mentally and to seek help to rectify that. Around the world, more and more athletes are openly talking about their mental health, taking mental health breaks and actively talking about how the rigours of modern-day sport, which has so many more facets now than just on-field play, adds immense mental pressure. Mental health is a very very important subject, not just for athletes, but for every single one of us.
It wasn’t a big surprise then to see many, many fans react angrily to comments made by India’s 1983 cricket World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev at an event recently.
In a video that has gone viral, Kapil can be seen talking about “pressure” and “depression” in what many feel is a derogatory way, calling them “American words”.
“I hear a lot of times on TV these days, there’s a lot of pressure, (we) play the IPL, so there’s so much pressure. Then I only say one thing – don’t play. What is pressure? If a player has passion, there will be no pressure. I can’t understand these American words like pressure, depression. I don’t understand these. I’m a farmer and we played to enjoy, and there can’t be any pressure in enjoyment,” Kapil said at the ‘Chat with Champions’ event.

Kapil went on to further talk about “pressure”, citing the example of school students.
“I went to a school once and the students said ‘there is a lot of pressure”…(So I said) You people study in air-conditioned schools, your parents pay the fees, teachers cannot beat you up, and you feel pressure? Ask me what pressure was all about during our time. Teachers used to beat us up first and then ask us where we had gone…Students need to convert this into pleasure and fun; pressure is a very wrong word,” he added.
Earlier this year, former India captain Virat Kohli also admitted his struggles with mental health.
“I personally have experienced times when even in a room full of people who support and love me, I felt alone, and I am sure that this is a feeling that a lot of people can relate to,” Kohli had said.
“It (mental health) is definitely a serious issue and as much as we try to be strong at all times, it can tear you apart.”
Here’s how some fans have reacted to Kapil Dev’s comments:

The pressures that go hand in hand with being an active sportsperson of course went through the roof during the Covid era, when bio-bubbles and isolation changed everyday life completely. Covid isolation, in fact, became a very important subject of discussion, because it affected almost everyone around the world in some way or the other. Via this discussion the topic of mental health got one of the biggest platforms ever.
As more and more people shared their experiences, it was clear that the world is united by people’s struggles with mental health and that it is very important to address all concerns, talk about it openly and try to find ways to remedy the problems.


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By Dipak

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