F1 driver George Russell ‘feeling stronger’ after struggling with his mental health
George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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The 23 year old announced yesterday that he has secured a future at Mercedes alongside champion Lewis Hamilton. It’s a mighty comeback from the bitter disappointment he felt after crashing behind the safety car while trying to warm up his tyres in Imola. These dark and intruding thoughts of disappointment took a toll on Russell’s mental health, leading the driver to seek therapy.
Now the young driver is urging men in particular to seek professional help if they feel they need to.
Talking to The i he said: “I think so many people, men particularly, see psychology as a weakness, which is absolutely not the case. Your mind is the most powerful tool in your body.
“If you have a toothache, you go and see a dentist. If you’ve got something wrong psychologically, you need to speak to a professional about it and they will help you through those moments whether it’s on the business side of things, or whether it’s personal.”
After talks with his trainer Alex Casanovas, it was decided that a professional psychologist was needed to help Russell as that was one of the only areas of his life where he was not receiving support.
“I was never one of these people who thought mental health is not that important.” Russell added. “You’re either mentally strong or mentally weak or whatever and you just got to be strong about it. If you’ve ever had a difficult moment, toughen up and get through it.”
Russell realised just how mentally tough battling for championship trophies within F1 will be, but has detailed: “I’m feeling stronger and stronger about this.”
In the past Russell has put his health above his career. In the 2019 season doubt was cast as to whether the driver would take part in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. At the time he said: “I’ve not been feeling great, I won’t expand on it [the condition]. It’s not an illness. It’s just something different. I’ll expand when the time’s right.”
Despite not feeling in tip top condition, he was given the all clear to race and at the time finished in 19th position.
How to recognise bad mental health
Mental health disorders refers to a wide range of conditions that can affect your mood, thinking and behaviour.
Many individuals have mental health concerns from time to time and can recognise when they may not be feeling like themselves.
This becomes a concern when ongoing signs and symptoms cause stress frequently and begin to affect your ability to function or socialise.
Factors such as genes, life experiences, upbringing and environment all affect our mental health and influence how we think and respond to situations. It can also depend on how well other parts of our life are going or how supported we feel.
If you are over the age of 16, an NHS self-assessment quiz may help you better understand how you are feeling and whether this could be a sign of depression or anxiety.
Alternatively it is important to look out for signs. Depending on the disorder and the individual mental illness symptoms can differ, but you should be able to notice changes in emotions, thoughts and behaviours.
Some examples of the signs to be aware of regarding a declining mental health are provided by The Mayo Clinic, they include:
- Feeling sad or down
- Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
- Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
- Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
- Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
- Problems with alcohol or drug use
- Major changes in eating habits
- Sex drive changes
- Excessive anger, hostility or violence
- Suicidal thinking.
When to seek professional help
When noticing any of the above symptoms it might be wise to book an appointment with your GP as most mental illnesses do not improve on their own.
Most doctors will then guide you to a type of therapy that is best for you. There are a wide variety available including psychodynamic, behavioural, cognitive behavioural therapy and humanistic therapy.
All adopt different techniques and methods depending on what you would like to focus on. However, they all look to work through some negative events or distressing thoughts to ensure you end up with a happier and more fulfilling life.
The best approach to a long-term mental health problem is psychodynamic therapy. This works to unlock the connection between your unconscious mind and your actions. Other treatments including cognitive behavioural therapy are shorter and less intense, often used to help patients with phobias or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
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