Lee praised for depression admission

Graham Lee's admittance that he has been struggling with depression has been appreciated by the racing industry in the hope it encourages others within the sport to seek help to combat the illness.

Graham Lee wins the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in 2015.

The Grand National-winning jockey, who has made a highly-successful transition to the Flat, made the revelation on World Mental Health Day to make the public aware of the problem and to put to bed rumours about his health.

They had become widespread within racing after 40-year-old Lee took five weeks out of racing in the summer.

"It is very brave, and the thing is that should be seen as a strength," Matt Mancini, welfare development manager for the British Horseracing Authority, told Racing UK.

"The fact that racing has a number of organisations in place, it should be very proud of the support it can offer to its participants, but we need people to be more aware of it.

"The PJA (Professional Jockeys Association) were the first to sign the mental health charter, so together with them and Racing Welfare we're keen to encourage others within the industry to do that.

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"It was very brave of Graham and hopefully that will encourage other people to come forward as well.

"One in four people in society suffer from mental health problems and it's an issue we should all feel we should be able to talk about.

"We have a number of support lines that are in place. The racing welfare 24/7 support line can also be accessed online, and that was launched earlier this year. The PJA also have a support line for their jockeys.

"We also have a growing number of welfare officers on the ground and there is a lot more training available to those practitioners to be able to offer that specialist support that racing needs. My role is to see what we can do for stable staff as well."

The BHA and Racing Welfare earlier this year signalled their ongoing commitment to the mental well-being of its participants by announcing they have joined the PJA in becoming signatories to the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation.

Young National Hunt jockey Mark Enright admitted to suffering depression in January 2015 and spent three weeks away from racing to help control the problem.

In July, six-times champion Flat jockey Kieren Fallon retired from the saddle after suffering with depression for the "the best part of three years".

To coincide with World Mental Health Day, a new film about Mental Health & Wellbeing has been released today by JETS in partnership with the PJA (Professional Jockeys Association). The film is the latest in a series of 'Jockey Matters' films focusing on a range of issues surrounding jockey welfare.
Featuring contributions from Sir AP McCoy, Leighton Aspell, Daryl Jacob and Mark Enright, the film focuses on the difficulties faced by jockeys in the weighing room and signposts the 24-hour PJA Confidential Wellbeing Line which has been set up to help jockeys.
Speaking in the film, former 20 time Champion Jump Jockey Sir AP McCoy talks about the general pressures that jockeys like other sportspeople face: "Sport is not a very level thing, it's not like a 9 to 5 job where the same things happen every day. You experience the highs and the lows but it's coping with the lows that's the most difficult part."

Click here to see the film on the PJA website.

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