It’s OK To Say: Ex-England cricketer Monty Panesar joins campaign for college session
PUBLISHED: 19:00 04 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:27 13 March 2020
Sixth formers from a St Albans school set aside a day to focus on mental wellbeing as part of the Herts Ad’s It’s OK To Say awareness initiative.
Students at St Columba's College were visited by the campaign's founder Stacey Turner and former England cricketer Monty Panesar last week who highlighted issues around men's mental health.
The pair wanted to emphasise the message that reaching out for support before things get difficult is a healthy way to be.They told the boys that if they are struggling, then speaking up and accessing practical solutions supports mental health on an everyday basis.
Stacey explained: 'We highlighted that factors such as hormones, sleep, relationships, your current environment, peer pressure, past experiences, diet can all affect mood. We concentrated on strategies the boys can use to look after themselves in order to be better equipped to deal with the challenges of everyday life.'
She added: 'Whether you're wanting to improve your daily life, have issues and pressures or things are spiralling, reach out! We're all human and aren't born with a manual. No two people are ever the same.'
The cricketer, who is a mental health ambassador for the Professional Cricketers Association, strongly reinforced the campaign's message in his speech. He spoke about the pressures he has faced on and off the cricket pitch over the years and of his passion for cricket from a young age.
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Monty told the students that cricket helped distract him from negative influences at a transitional age. He spoke about his passion for cricket becoming a discipline, which meant his decisions in life were healthily influenced by this. A student in the front row asked Monty whether the pressure was worth it.
He replied: 'If it means helping you boys, then yes!'
Stacey said: 'I can only hope the boys took away with them what we intended. It's always fun doing a presentation with Monty, as we get to hear some background insights into his cricketing career, some funny anecdotes and how he dealt with stress. His character is relatable to the boys.'
Monty said: 'Stacey did not give up in getting me to do these presentations with her and I am glad she didn't! It's very powerful work and a pleasure to be able to share my experiences.'
Catherine Treacy, head of Guertin House at the school said: 'It was so important for them to be reminded of the need to speak up if they are struggling. The students really enjoyed hearing about Monty's career and how he and his colleagues managed the professional pressures.
'The practical solutions that you provided to support the boys' mental health were excellent and they found them really practical. Monty's clarity on the demands of real ambition and guidance on how to keep strong against distractions at this age was particularly inspiring and thought provoking.'
Head boy Gus McMahon added: 'When It's OK to Say visited our school, it was their open and genuine attitude that allowed us to engage and interact freely with a topic which still bears much stigma today. We were treated like equals and there was no sense of it being a lecture - it was, to us, simply an informative and productive discussion. I personally feel much better just knowing that there are people like those at It's OK to Say who will always be there for us.'