Former Australian captain Steve Waugh has praised Glenn Maxwell for his “courageous decision” to take a break from the game to deal with mental health issues.
It was announced on Thursday that 31-year-old Maxwell would be taking a short break from the game after experiencing some difficulties with his mental health during the T20 series with Sri Lanka.
Cricket Australia psychologist Dr Michael Lloyd said Maxwell, “was proactive in identifying these issues and engaging with support staff”.
Waugh said it was refreshing to see a player speak up about their mental health.
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“I think it’s good in this day and age, it’s a welcome sight,” Waugh said.
“Back when I played, it was almost a sign of weakness. It was like ‘get on with the job and you’ll be OK’.”
Maxwell played the first two T20 internationals against Sri Lanka at Adelaide and Brisbane earlier this week, scoring a swash-buckling 62 off 28 balls at the Adelaide Oval as Australia ran out comfortable victors.
However, coach Justin Langer said he thought something was “not quite right” about Maxwell, despite his impressive performance.
“He’s the great entertainer, but underneath the mask, you probably just sense it,” Langer said.
“I asked him the day before the Adelaide game, and that’s when he said ‘we probably need that little chat’.
“There’s been a few times over the past 12 months where I’ve suspected he’s battling a little bit.”
Waugh, 54, acknowledged that no matter how in form or out of form a player might be, the pressure athletes find themselves under in professional sport can sometimes add up.
“I think it’s fantastic that he’s done that, he obviously needs to see someone and get some support,” the former captain said.
“It’s a high-pressure situation, professional sport, and people have got outside pressures and things happening in life just like normal people. Sometimes it becomes a bit too much.
“I think it’s a courageous decision and one that should be applauded.”
Waugh, who played 168 Test matches for Australia between 1985 and 2004, said that in his day, players were far less aware of mental health issues and tended to just get on with things.
“[Back then] I think we put it down to being homesick or just a loss of form, or you’re complaining about something and [you should] pretty much get on with the job,” he said.
“It was a tough school back then, and I look at a lot of players I played with and I think back now, and maybe they had mental issues.
“But at the time, it was almost a sign of weakness to put your hand up.
“I’m glad that that’s changed because so many people suffered in silence.”
Waugh highlighted the effects of social media in the mental health of people across all walks of society and that, despite appearances, nobody has the “perfect life”.
“Mental health issues are very important, it’s a big thing in society and we have to recognise it, acknowledge it and do something about it.
“Everyone’s on Facebook and Instagram and nobody ever posts anything negative, so when you see someone else’s post you think, ‘Maybe my life is not as good as it should be’, and you’re always trying to catch up and do things better.
“The fact is, everyone has their struggles and nobody has the perfect life, so we need to be a bit more realistic about things.”