Struthers: Jockeys telling me they are struggling

Paul Struthers

Paul Struthers: working with jockeys to overcome problems

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)  

 By Lee Mottershead 9:30AM 6 JUL 2016 

PROFESSIONAL Jockeys Association chief executive Paul Struthers pointed to further evidence on Tuesday that riders suffering from mental health issues are increasingly willing to take up available support and suggested Kieren Fallon’s retirement announcement had already encouraged at least one person to seek help.

Fallon on Monday revealed he had brought down the curtain on his glittering riding career in order to receive treatment for severe depression that Turf Club medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick believes had gone undiagnosed for years.

Although British jockeys have been able to access a confidential mental health helpline since last summer – similar to the one provided to all the sport’s workforce by Racing Welfare – no such facility has been available to their counterparts in Ireland.

That is set to change this month, or shortly afterwards, while Fallon is due to embark on three to six weeks of hospital treatment after McGoldrick found him to be living with “profound fatigue”, a common symptom of depression.

‘Getting the message across’

Speaking on Tuesday, PJA chief executive Paul Struthers said: “We’re getting the message across that support is there and mental health is not something to be remotely ashamed about. It’s common, it’s normal and it’s important to get it addressed. Indeed, it’s testament to how far racing has come that Kieren has felt able to be open about the reasons behind his retirement.

“Our experience mirrors what has happened in other sports that have been ahead of racing in tackling this issue. Things start off slowly but then as people talk about their personal situation, and particularly when they have come out the other side after receiving support, it does begin to help others and encourage them to come forward.

“In the last month alone I’ve had four members approach me to say they were struggling mentally and were either looking for help and support or were already confident enough to talk to me about it. I also don’t think it’s coincidental that someone reached out to me on Monday, immediately on the back of Kieren’s story breaking.”

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