Britain’s jockeys are to benefit from a dedicated mental health helpline, bringing the sportsmen and women of the horse racing industry into line with their colleagues in cricket, rugby and other sports.
The service for members of the Professional Jockeys Association is being launched in conjunction with LPP, one of the country’s leading organisations dedicated to mental health, wellbeing and people performance.
The 24-hour-a-day welfare helpline is being funded by Great British Racing, which pledged £25,000 for such an initiative as part of the Stobart Flat Jockeys’ Championship which was launched earlier this year.
Recently retired three times Champion Flat Jockey Richard Hughes welcomed the helpline as a step change for Britain’s jockeys: “I think this is a tremendous and most welcome development which will be of great help to jockeys. I know from my own experience earlier in my riding career that this would have assisted me when I was facing some personal challenges. I would have certainly have taken advantage of the chance to talk through some of these issues with an expert adviser.”
He was joined by AP McCoy, the recently retired twenty times Champion Jump Jockey who said: “The life of a jockey can have many highs, but given the lifestyle– restricted diet, self-employed with no guaranteed income, risk of injury, long hours – it can also be very demanding,” he said.
“Mental health is just as important as physical health. The confidential helpline has been set up for jockeys who would like to talk to a professional counsellor or therapist in absolute confidence.”
Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, said: “This partnership with LPP will provide help and support to jockeys for a variety of issues and is long overdue. There should be no stigma around mental health issues and this is one of the reasons why I have spoken openly about my own past issues.
“A jockey wouldn’t think twice of seeking support for a physical problem, and this confidential helpline and subsequent face-to-face support will provide them with the same level of support for mental health as the Jockeys Injury Management (JIM) Team, Oaksey House and Jack Berry House provides for physical health.”
Great British Racing chief executive Rod Street, a past chairman of the PJA, said: “This is an area of welfare assistance that the jockeys have been keen to see provided for some years. As part of the Stobart sponsorship of new Flat jockeys’ championship, we see this as a vital development in bringing the country’s jockeys into line with the participants in other leading sports.”
LPP is recognised as the country’s leading provider of confidential counselling in elite and professional sport, already covering football, cricket, both codes of rugby, rowing and athletics.
Details of the free to access helpline have been sent to all currently licensed professional jockeys who are members of the PJA.