Three years ago, Bhavi Devchand was not OK.
“I was lonely, I was frustrated, and I felt like I was the only one going through this,” she said.
It was the 2014-15 season and, for the first time in her young career, the Alcohol.Think Again Western Fury all-rounder had been dropped from the playing squad and was struggling with a sense of failure.
Filled with anxiety and self-doubt, the 24-year-old said her confidence was shot, which directly affected her performance and fuelled the self-doubt in a downward spiral.
“I wasn’t coping, I was very pessimistic and tended to catastrophise things too much,” she said.
“The pressure of having to perform day-in day-out was getting too much.
“In cricket, you often have one opportunity to hit one ball and get it right and the scores are out there for everyone to see; I think I averaged 15 runs with the bat that summer.”
Cricket Australia has discovered through recent evidence-based research that many players suffer in the high-stress environment if they don’t have the proper coping mechanisms.
“Like everyone in the community, athletes are susceptible to mental health issues, but in addition they are faced with high stress environments,” WACA Head Psychologist Matt Burgin said.
“When the coping mechanisms haven’t been properly developed they can have a higher rate of mental health issues.”
This pre-season, Devchand has overhauled her own mental health.
“I started to look for things to help me cope; I started to do my own research, listening to podcasts and just really focused on being positive,” she said.
“I now keep a diary and at the start of each day I write down what I’m grateful for.
“I meditate daily and Cricket Australia give us a lot of support.
“Already I’m feeling different; I’m more confident playing, I haven’t made any big changes to my technique or fitness – it’s all been mental.
“Just being clear and positive, I’ve discovered things that I didn’t even realise I could do.”
Now she wants to open up the conversation, talking to teammates about their mental health and how to manage their wellbeing.
“I watch some of the young girls mess something up and their whole body language changes; their shoulders drop and I can tell it was what I was like,” she said.
“I want them to talk about it and learn the coping mechanisms so that they don’t go down the same path.”