Derbyshire all-rounder Anuj Dal has praised the support of the Club and the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) after revealing he was affected by mental-health issues last summer.
Dal sought help after he found himself not even wanting to get out of bed, while at one point he arrived at the Incora County Ground in Derby in tears and unwilling to leave his car.
It was a scary time for the 26-year-old who admitted he was not “entirely sure why I was feeling that way or how to cope with it” at a time he was in the prime years of his career.
“I found even coming to training was really challenging,” he said. “It was tough because I’d never felt that way before.
“I’ve dealt with setbacks in my career, as a cricketer you have to do that, but this felt very different.
“I remember the day as if it was yesterday when I came in and I was in tears as I got to the ground and didn’t want to get out of the car and come to the changing rooms because I didn’t want the day to start and happen all over again.
“At a time when you’re hyped up and ready for the T20s and all the cricket to commence I was in a position where I didn’t really want to get out of bed and turn up for training.
“It was something I’d never experienced before so it was important to gain the skills to deal with that but also understand why I was feeling that way.”
Dal was able to access support through his club Derbyshire and the PCA, where he is the vice chair, and has started to enjoy his cricket again to such an extent that he has become a key player in the club’s emergence under head of cricket Mickey Arthur this season.
“If I hadn’t been involved with the PCA, I would have found reaching out for support very difficult to do but fortunately with my role I’ve seen players receive support and help and I know how beneficial it is,” he said.
“Literally it was one message that I sent and four days later I was seeing a therapist, it really did make a difference and completely revitalised my game.
“If it wasn’t for that support I really would have struggled. I don’t think I would have been able to cope in the way that I did and come back and enjoy my cricket again.”
Dal also acknowledges the support he received from Derbyshire and his team-mates.
“In this club we have a very supportive environment, it’s all very tight knit and I found it incredibly helpful having the senior players backing me completely the whole way,” he said.
“That was the best part about it, the guys were there to help and that made you feel very comfortable as a player .
“I would hope within our current set up whether it is players in the academy, second team or first team that if anyone has any issues they are able to come and talk to the players.
“We aim to create that open environment in the dressing room.”
Dal is now determined to ensure more players are aware of the network that is available for them should they require mental-health support.
“I think the more people are starting to talk about it is only going to be a positive and the support there is compared to five or 10 years ago is paramount,” he said.
“The PCA are brilliant in the support they offer, for myself last year it was crucial in being able to get through the season and understanding why I was feeling differently so having experienced it first-hand.
“I realise how important it is and how beneficial it is.
“Increasing that message and getting it out to players that there is that support is always a challenge because some will hide away and try and deal with it themselves but as I’ve experienced bottling it up is not the answer.
“Hopefully as more and more players have spoken out it’s getting rid of that stigma and that it is ok to seek help, it’s not anything that is seen to be detrimental to your career or seen as a weakness.”
Derbyshire County Cricket Club Support: The Club has an official Mental Health First Aider, who through specialist training is able to provide dedicated mental health support to any member of the Club’s playing, coaching or off-field staff. The Club also provides players with access to a Club Doctor, as well as a Counsellor from partner organisation, The University of Derby.
PCA Support: Players seeking support should Contact your regional PDM: The PCA’s dedicated team of regional Personal Development Managers are there to support you throughout your cricket career and beyond.
Confidential helpline: PCA members can call 07780 008877 to speak to someone at the Sporting Chance Clinic 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.