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[Video] Mental health – professional athletes open up

profile picture of Nile Wilson
Artistic gymnast
29 July 2021

You might already know the important role that exercise plays in looking after your physical health. But did you know that keeping active can also support your mental health?

In this video, I open up about my experience with mental health, alongside fellow athletes Will Bayley and Hannah Cockroft. We also share our advice for looking after your mental wellbeing. Watch the video below or read on to find out more.

Key points from the video

Personal experiences

Will Bayley

I was lucky because my parents never looked at me like I had a disability, and so I never felt like I had any barriers. I don’t feel like I’ve had a harder life than anyone else. We all have different challenges to face. Having a disability is just a different type of challenge and I’ve found a way to make it work.

Hannah Cockroft

Growing up, I was told that sport wasn’t for me because I had a disability – and I just accepted it. But when I was 12, one of my school support assistants brought in the local wheelchair basketball team to do a demo. It completely changed my life that day and a whole world of sport was opened up to me.

Nile Wilson

At just 18 years old, a lot seemed to happen for me very quickly. I stepped on the world stage of gymnastics and became successful on YouTube and in business. But I got caught up in everything and it started to affect my mental health. Then I got a neck injury that needed surgery which really knocked me for six. My behaviour became more erratic and I started to drink and party more. I was really struggling and the people around me noticed I wasn’t being myself too.

Athletes’ tips for managing your mental health

Open up

Surround yourself with people who make you feel good as much as possible. Find someone you trust and have the courage to open up to them about any challenges you’re facing. Just being honest about how you’re really feeling can help.

Take it one day at a time

Everyone has different challenges to face and not every day will be perfect, so try to take everything one day at a time.

Manage social media

Scrolling through what seems like other people’s perfect lives on social media can make you feel anxious and stressed. It can also make you feel under pressure to keep up with an ideal image. But remember you can choose who you follow on social media. So, if you’re having a bad day, put things away and do something that makes you feel good instead – like reading a book or going for a walk. Give yourself permission to do the things you enjoy and don’t feel guilty for it.

Keep active

Exercise is a great way to help look after your mental health. It can make you feel better about yourself and improve your mood.

Focus on the positives

When you’re feeling low, try to remember that things will get better. You can overcome any obstacles that come your way – there’s always a reason to keep going.


If you’re worried about your mental health, our direct access service aims to provide you with the advice, support and treatment you need as quickly as possible. If you’re covered by your health insurance, you’ll be able to get mental health advice and support usually without the need for a GP referral. Learn more today.

profile picture of Nile Wilson
Nile Wilson
Artistic gymnast

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