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Dame Kelly Holmes opens up about her own struggles with mental health problems

The double Olympic champion says the Government is letting people down because we are not recognising the joint importance of physical and mental health; “I got to the point when I was 33-years-old, the year before the Olympic games, where I had a huge breakdown because of the pressure”

Last Updated: 13/10/22 9:34pm


Dame Kelly Holmes, double Olympic champion in 2004, spoke of her mental health struggles

Dame Kelly Holmes has opened up about her mental health struggles and said we must recognise that physical and mental health go side by side.

Warning: This article contains references to suicide.

The middle-distance runner told Beth Rigby that during her career she struggled with her mental health, describing it as a “battle” in her head.

Dame Kelly, 52, took part in her final major championship, the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and won gold at 800m and 1500m, but said that the “pressure to succeed” led her to a breakdown when she was 33.

She said: “I went through stress fractures, ruptured calves, torn Achilles, glandular fever, tonsillitis, a damaged femoral nerve in my back and mental health problems seven years out of my 12 years as an international athlete.

“I got to the point when I was 33-years-old which was the year before the Olympic Games getting ready for a World Championships where I had a huge breakdown because of the pressure and expectation on myself to be good.

“One, because I was battling with other things in my life, but two because I really wanted to be an Olympic champion. And I got to a point where I didn’t want to be here frankly, but I did.”

Holmes opened up on her breakdown while 33 and preparing for the Olympics

Holmes opened up on her breakdown while 33 and preparing for the Olympics

Dame Kelly, who has previously talked about harming herself, said that it was a “battle” in her head, “where half of you wants to live and the other half of you doesn’t”.

She said that for her mental wellbeing she has to be active – anything from walking to relieve stress to going to the gym, home workouts or running.

She said that the Government is letting people down on mental health because we are not recognising the importance of physical and mental health “going side by side”.

Holmes says the Government is letting people down due to not recognising the joint importance of physical and mental health

Holmes says the Government is letting people down due to not recognising the joint importance of physical and mental health

She added: “Why are we getting more obese? Why is there a huge issue with teenage mental health and suicide? Because we’re not looking at the importance of being active and how that correlates with up here,” as she pointed to her head.

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email [email protected] in the UK.



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