India vs England: James Anderson: ‘Perception about talking on mental health has changed’

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During the pandemic, mental health concerns have forced Naomi Osaka to pull out of the French Open and Wimbledon, US gymnast Simone Biles to withdraw from five out of six events in Tokyo Olympics, and Ben Stokes to take an indefinite break from cricket.

“Well, I think it affects people very differently. There are different pressures that come with being successful in your sport. Certainly from Ben’s point of view, he has been through a lot in the last few years, he has played a hell lot of cricket,” Anderson said during a virtual media interaction.

“What is positive from all of this is that in the last few years, it has definitely become okay or more okay to talk about it and be open with your feelings and your problems.”

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Anderson, who made his Test debut way back in 2003, recalled that when he started out, if someone spoke about mental depression, it was seen as a sign of weakness.

“Certainly when I started, especially from a male athlete’s point of view, maybe it was seen as a weakness if you came out and spoke, talked about it, (probably) with the pressure of various things. So, I am grateful that now it has become okay to talk about it and be open,” said Anderson, who has played 162 Tests and taken 617 wickets.

The England seamer, who will open the attack in the Test series against India, is also hopeful of his teammate Stokes coming back stronger.

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“From our point of view, with Ben, we hope that he comes back stronger, gets the rest that he needs and the help that he needs and comes back as a stronger cricketer, because he is an incredible talent that everyone in the world wants to watch,” Anderson signed off.

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