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Mental health issues can affect anyone, and with more people coming forward and speaking out, there is greater awareness and acceptance about the illness.

With much uncertainty surrounding the World today, mental well-being is of upmost importance and cannot be taken lightly. Anything that involves emotional, psychological and social well-being of an individual can be issues related to mental health.

These factors could easily affect the way we act, feel or think and also increase our stress levels. Mental health issue can develop at any stage of life, be it from childhood, adolescence or adulthood.

The environment where one has been born and brought up can have a lasting impact on the mental health of the person.

Change in behaviour might have to do with an incident of the past – life changing experiences, trauma, abuse, a troubled family history or even hereditary.

The World Health Organisation stress that mental health is “more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.”

Some of the signs of mental health are distress, angry outbursts, excessive irrational anxiety, pervasive sadness, poor coping skills and worry, sleeping too much or too little, disconnect from others, withdrawal etc.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) would like to share important information on the topic. Through the true-life stories of Para athletes, the IPC aims to provide you with knowledge and a better understanding of the problen that can arise. 

Para athletes have often dealt with mental health issues and some of their inspiring stories are below. If you need help or advice, please visit Befrienders provides information on how you can access assistance within your area. Also listen to our weekly podcast for inspiration.

Phil Eaglesham continues to inspire battling mental health struggles


Ireland’s shooting Para sport athlete Phil Eaglesham, speaks on how his physical and mental health worsened after being contacted with Q Fever – a disease characterised by chronic muscle weakness, fatigue, joint pain and breathing problems that also affects various organs in the body - while serving in Afghanistan as a Royal Marines Commando.

Phil Eaglesham
ON TARGET: Phil Eaglesham

Eaglesham lost a great deal of physical abilities and used a power chair; people treated him differently; and he once had to sit in his house for six months after his wife injured herself trying to transfer him. In turn, it caused him to feel like a burden on his family. Read on here

Darkness shines light on Horrie’s inner strength


Erik Horrie
Australian Paralympic rower Erik Horrie works out in his backyard gym in Sydney. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Australian two-time Paralympic rower Erik Horrie recalls one of the darkest moments of his life. He reveals how leading up to Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, his confidence hit rock bottom.
Despite being a three-time world champion at the time, with multiple world records and accolades under his belt, Horrie found himself calling Australian mental health hotline, Lifeline, just to find someone to talk to. Read on here

Life lessons leave their mark on Deja


When times get tough for Deja Young, she just looks at her wrist for a reminder of the events of the past and the key to her future. The double Paralympic and world champion has a tattoo there, with three simple words – ‘just keep going’.

a female Para athlete smiling and holding an American flag
Deja Young

“I don’t mind telling that I did have a suicide attempt before the Games,” she reflected. “At that point I was alone and thinking, why am I really doing this? Why am I here and what is my purpose? And I really had to find that." Read on here

Meica Horsburgh opens up about dark times


Australia’s Meica Horsburgh grew up with albinism and the challenges that came along, especially in her teenage years, proved to be a dark time in her life. 

Horsburgh bravely opens up about a period of bullying that drove her too far and how goalball saved her life in episode five of 'A Winning Mindset: Lessons from the Paralympics,' the official podcast of the International Paralympic Committee, in partnership with Allianz

Vision impaired woman holding Australian flag with branded text on the side

Before listening to this podcast episode, be aware that the contents discussed include bullying to the point of suicidal feelings.

Horsburgh, now 31, was one of five children and grew up with ocular albinism, which also impacts her vision. Two other siblings were also albino, but the difficulties came when she got older. Read on here


With the COVID-19 pandemic being a pressing concern, the IPC’s International Partner Allianz, has joined force for several initiatives and is trying to improve people’s lives in these times of test. To know more about this, click here.