Mercedes driver George Russell took everyone by surprise with just how quickly he settled into life at the Silver Arrows following his arrival last season.
The youngster managed to win his maiden GP and more importantly, finished the season ahead of his more fancied seven-time world champion teammate Lewis Hamilton.
While from a distance it may seem like Russell is truly enjoying life, it does not mean he has not had his fair share of troubles to deal with.
The former Williams driver discussed his battle with mental health and why he is taking therapy from a mental health specialist.
The perception of mental health has changed drastically in the last few years, with many elite sportspersons finding the strength to be more vocal about their struggles.
It has reinforced the idea that asking for help is not something to be ashamed of, a sentiment that is fully backed by Russell.
In an interview with Men’s Health magazine, Russell discussed the impact of speaking with a psychologist over the past couple of seasons.
“I haven’t always been into my mental health. I only started getting into it about a year and a half, two years ago, when I started to speak with a psychologist, mainly for my on-track personal performance,” Russell said.
“It was only through those conversations that I felt like this is giving me more than just the on-track benefits. I’m coming away from these sessions feeling better about myself, feeling like there had been a weight lifted off my shoulders.
“Sometimes I went into these sessions with not a lot to talk about, thinking it would only last five or 10 minutes, and I was there well over an hour and since then it has been something I have felt strongly about.”
It was only after reaching the ‘low point’ in his career that Russell felt he needed the help of a professional, having been battling with a lot of pressure without assistance till then.
“The moment when I thought I need to seek some professional help, I had a really difficult race. I had a crash, [and] it was a very low point in my career,” Russell said.
“I thought I could just pick myself up from that moment and I was picking myself up, but we decided to speak with a professional.
“And I was so grateful that I was advised to do that because I came away from that conversation and that meeting with him feeling so much better about myself, and put those negatives to the side, lifted myself up, and I was ready to attack the rest of the day and the rest of the week.”
Russell discusses benefits of seeking professional help
Russell had some advice to offer to anyone else suffering from mental health problems, regardless of whether they are a sportsperson.
“The one bit of advice I would give to someone who is struggling with their mental health would be not to be ashamed about talking to somebody,” he said.
“Whether that is a friend, or a colleague, or a member of your family, or reaching out to a professional.
“We all have our moments where we are feeling a bit down, a little bit low but even when we are not, I think talking to somebody to almost have this mental maintenance just to keep ticking over, to keep in that positive place, is so important.”