Helen Richardson-Walsh backs mental health campaign

10 Oct 2017

To mark World Mental Health Day, Legal & General has announced that Olympic gold medallist Helen Richardson-Walsh will speak at the FTSE 100 insurer’s inaugural mental health forum at Twickenham Stadium, London, on 19th October.

The hockey star recently revealed her struggle with depression, which stretches back as far as 2008, before the familiar feelings surfaced while she was sidelined by injury in 2014.

Speaking to BBC Sport, the two-time Olympic medallist (above, centre, with her wife Kate) said: "I was - and I can describe it in the same way lots of people do - in a really dark place. I was really emotional and not able to get out of that.

"Waking up in the morning and feeling like, what was the point of anything, not wanting to get out of bed, that kind of thing. I knew that I needed to seek help in that moment.

"In 2014, I was injured, so there was something wrong that people could pin it on. I guess I don't think I did really hide it that well. Whereas in 2008 it was slightly different, in that there was nothing specifically wrong.

"I think that's why I was more concerned. Why am I feeling this way when I shouldn't be, when there's nothing wrong, when everything is fine in my life?"

Richardson-Walsh, who also recently graduated from university with a degree in psychology, will be interviewed on-stage by Gabby Logan, alongside a number of other high profile names on 19th October.

The event will bring together well-known sporting personalities, business leaders and mental health experts to encourage education around mental health and help tackle the stigma of talking about it in the workplace.

Other speakers already confirmed include strategist and author Alastair Campbell, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, L&G CEO Nigel Wilson, Bupa’s Beth Robotham, TV presenter Gabby Logan and Adam Spreadbury, co-chair of the Mental Health Network at the Bank of England, amongst others.

Nigel Wilson, CEO, Legal & General, commented: “The importance of raising awareness and encouraging open, honest conversations about mental health in the workplace cannot be understated. Absence due to mental health continues to be a problem for employers, with more and more people taking time off work as a result of these issues. Through this forum we are aiming to raise awareness of good mental health among business leaders and to promote further education and the implementation of programmes which will help their employees in times of hardship.

“Legal & General continues to be committed to focusing on mental health in the workplace through our own health and wellbeing programme. Throughout the summer, we have been making positive changes to the way people perceive mental health issues through our partnership with several sporting personalities, many of whom have shared their own personal experiences.

“We have also invested in training our own mental health first aiders to assist anyone struggling with these kinds of issues in the workplace. Our inaugural forum will continue to redefine how people engage with mental health problems, and will hopefully encourage other business leaders to consider how mental health affects their workplace and what they can do to tackle it.”

The event forms part of the ‘Not a Red Card’ campaign, run by thinkBeyond on behalf of Legal & General, which has already been supported by the likes of Rebecca Adlington, Ricky Hatton, Kelly Smith, Simon Mingolet, Michael Johnson, Dame Kelly Holmes and Nigel Owens.

thinkBeyond helps organisations and people that do good, do it better through sport, generating business and social value, advising some of the largest brands in the world on how they can use sport to achieve social outcomes across their key markets. Projects include ESPN’s International Citizenship Strategy, SAP’s Global Sport and CSR strategy, and the International Olympic Committee’s Sport for All Strategy.

Final places are still available on the guest list for the event. Register your interest by emailing sophie@benchmarksport.com.