Jason Behrendorff believes social media has played a big role in mental health issues affecting elite athletes.
Speaking on Episode 4 of Sport Insights with Emageo, Behrendorff opened up on his own experiences, including playing in the Indian Premier League.
Behrendorff admitted he had been a little bit surprised that there had been so many cricket stars taking breaks for their mental health at the same time, but said it was understandable with so much pressure in the game now.
“It’s very hard to gauge it but in my very inexperienced opinion, I think it’s (social media) a huge thing,” Behrendorff said. “The biggest thing I think, for me, is the addiction side of it, knowing how addictive it is to be on social media.”
Behrendorff revealed he went on a social media ban during the 2015-16 Big Bash when he was playing through a bad back injury.
“I guess I put a bit of a ban maybe on myself, is the easiest way to say it because I knew I couldn’t deal with anything more than what I was dealing with,” Behrendorff said.
“I didn’t want to see a comment, whether I agreed with it or not or whether it was true or not, it didn’t matter at the time and it was something that I just really didn’t need to see. Juvelle, my wife, was really big with me through this period of being so, I guess, concerned about the social media aspect and not delving too deep into anything because I knew that I couldn’t handle it.
“That might have been the straw that tipped me over the edge so it’s a very tough balance at times and one that you’re constantly fighting to find the right answers. Some days you feel yourself not wanting to look at anything and other days you’ll happily sit on social media and like some photos or comments or post something yourself.”
But Behrendorff said it wasn’t an easy problem to solve, given social media is such a huge part of modern life and a key way to engage with fans.
“I certainly don’t think it’s as easy as saying: ‘Get off it’,” Behrendorff said. “It’s something that is very addictive, whether it’s from a post something and see how many likes you get or just a general sense of feeling good or bar or indifferent.
“I still remember it was really hard going from using social media during that Big Bash period (to not). It was really hard to go cold turkey. To actually put my phone away and not use it was really hard to get used to but by the same token after I got a few days in and then got a week in and you can find a way to not need to use it, which is also really nice.”