Sheffield Steelers player on importance of getting help for mental health issues
A Sheffield Steelers player has spoken openly about the importance of seeking "professional help" at this time of worry and nervousness during the pandemic.
Sam Jones has publicly acknowledged he had sometimes struggled with feelings of unease even before the arrival of coronavirus.
Going forward, he wants people to keep a close eye on their general mental health.
Competitors in tough sports like ice hockey rarely reveal their innermost emotions.
But the 23-year-old defenceman, signed in the summer by Sheffield coach Aaron Fox, has been subject to mood swings as he has struggled to find a hockey job while the EIHL is closed down.
"I normally have some minor anxiety just over normal day-to-day stuff, but it's definitely worsened with covid," he told The Star.
"With life on hold and the worries about what it's doing to my career it's worsened a lot.
"This is a very important time in my career so it's tough having already lost 10 months with no end in sight.
"I just hope everything’s back to normal soon and I can get back to normal life."
Jones said he had found it "extremely hard" to cope with the pressures of life during the virus.
"Everyone is struggling in different ways, and I understand there are many people in worse situations, but it's a tough time to be an athlete right now," he said.
"My life's just been on pause, waiting around at the possibility of playing hockey at some point.
"It's definitely been causing a lot of anxiety for sure.
"I've mainly been trying to keep myself busy with my business and online university as well as training and practicing on-ice."
Walsall-born Jones, who lives with family in Alberta, Canada, added: "I have some anxiety issues of my own any way so this obviously hasn't helped.
"I have reached out for professional help which has been great.
"It's a hard time and I just hope people take care of themselves, and if they need some help to reach out for it.
"Especially with the UK into another lockdown, I just hope people reach out for the help they need, and keep their mental health in check."
One bright light has been his lifestyle in Canada.
"I've been extremely lucky that the local Junior A team has been allowing me to practice with them over the last three months," he said.
"I've been practicing with the Canmore Eagles. This has helped me keep my on ice conditioning good.
"I've also been working hard with Danny Mawer (Steelers' fitness coach) and have been feeling better than I have in a long time.
"I’m living in Canmore with my parents, which is just 15 minutes from Banff," said the summer signing from Fife Flyers.
"I am fortunate to be living in such a nice place throughout all of this."