Golfers, Let’s Talk Mental Health

Golfers, Let’s Talk Mental Health.

Today is January 28, 2015. Here in Canada it is #BellLetsTalk day in support of mental health initiatives. For Bell Canada it is a day where 5 cents from every tweet, text, mobile or long distance call with the hashtag listed above is donated from the company in support of research, workplace health, care and access, and anti-stigma programs. In 2014, there were over 109 million tweets, texts and calls made which raised over $5 million. According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in any one year 1 in 5 adults will experience a mental health or addiction problem. So maybe your foursome is all ok, but statistically speaking within your group and the one ahead of you someone is suffering. If we correlate this to the number of golfers in Canada, a number which ranges from 1.5 million to almost 6 million (depending on the source) and we can see that mental health challenges affect a large number of golfers.

So why am I sharing this with you today? In my late 20’s I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. It’s not on my business card, I don’t share it at dinner parties and I have many friends who may be finding out through this blog for the first time. But the fact is I was struggling and was able to reach out and get the help I needed. And since then I have been able to manage it very well and golf has been a significant aspect of my ongoing health regime. When people talk about golf and health the correlation often relates to walking and the cardiovascular benefits, and maintaining muscle health and flexibility to be able to repeat a swing. I do not hear of people discuss the mental health benefits of golf; in fact I see comics and jokes which show the anger and frustration of the game, funny but not exactly helpful.

But my story is one where golf provided me expansiveness – literally in terms of the field of play, and also in providing me hours of time alone (which I can carve for myself even within a foursome) to think, reflect and often just relax. Golf has provided me a healthy pursuit when I’ve needed it. My wife has often said, “you need to get out and hit some golf balls”, seemingly intuitively knowing when I need a break. I am pleased to say I’ve been feeling healthy and well for many years now. Any relapses are minor in nature and through self-awareness, golf, and knowing there is professional help available should I need it, I am living a healthy life and enjoying positive mental health.

The golf community is amazing. Through this blog I have met new people who educate, entertain and perhaps without knowing it, continue to support my journey. Jim, who authors The Grateful Golfer and Josh who writes Golf Is Mental are bloggers whose writing touches on an issue which is important to me and through their writing continues to educate and inform me about the role golf can have for positive mental health. So send a tweet, send a text and reflect on your own mental health today. #Bellletstalk.

Like Jim, to borrow a phrase, I am a grateful golfer.

This is my favourite golf hole I've ever played, the 16th at Cabot Links.
This is my favourite golf hole I’ve ever played, the 16th at Cabot Links.