Friday, 28 August 2009

The Hodge Interview on Radio SEN

Follow this link for the Hodge interview.

Interesting interview. I've heard smarter cricketers and much of what he says is pretty much hearsay and conjecture but that doesn't mean he's not a good bloke and certainly doesn't mean he's not a fine cricketer. Sorry but that Victorian chip on the shoulder just rubs me up the wrong way.

The part of the interview I found most disturbing was the manner in which Shaun Tait was treated in the West Indies. It would seem that the cricket world is behind the rest of Australia in its treatment of players with mental health issues but then several examples in the recent past underline this all to clearly.

Tait ... Symonds ... Pomersbatch

As the home of Beyond Blue, you fellas must be on board with that statement, surely.


  1. Thanks for putting up the link, i didn't know SEN did pods of all their shows: got to love the global media village we now live in so all can be on the same page.

    It just goes to show that education doesn't always rub off. Warne and Hodge both went to the two most reputable schools in my area (only a couple of hundred meters apart) and they both speak like boguns!

    From my brothers friends that knew Hodge at school i gleamed him to be a bit of an annoying prick- but i can see why he is annoyed himself.
    Either he is lying about getting offside with someone, or the selectors are hypocrits with their selection policy, or he is just a whinging Vic, or there is bias against Vics. Surely they are the only options? His form is without question excellent.

    As someone that has had depression and substance abuse issues i take your point Lango on the Tait issue... but why did Hodge bring that up again?

    You came on board after Symonds, so you may not know that i thought CA had done a lot to keep him 'in a good place', except for totally supporting him when India threatened to shorten the tour and litigate against lost tour earnings, that was the real time when CA let Symonds down.

    I think the issue of players mental state is very relevant as people in a good personal headspace will take that with them out on the field.
    So with that, maybe we need to develop a more professional touring ensemble. It is one thing to let friends/wives along, of course there is a tour manager, but what about a personnel manager (to ensure players don't get left alone in rooms and have good escorts out on the town) and a peformance psyc?

    Given that CA is addressing the selectors position now, with the idea of it being full time, why not structure a full support network for players that spend so much time away from home.

  2. "Either he is lying about getting offside with someone, or the selectors are hypocrits with their selection policy, or he is just a whinging Vic, or there is bias against Vics. Surely they are the only options"

    Actually, i'm pretty sure it is not the bias thing, as pointed out, with Hughes as a selector we have seen three Vics capped for use in prettu important positions: All rounder, strike bowler, spin bowler in the last 10 months. So i wonder if the opposite could be said- preferential treatment! Which i also don't think is the case due to Victoria playing so well at all three formats last season players are going to get attention.

  3. You may have noticed from my ABC Contribute bio, I've fought a life long battle with bipolar disorder - one I'm winning now I know what it is, am meds compliant, have built up an outstanding support base and have great knowledge of the illness. I still don't think people treat those with mental illness well and the reaction lies somewhere between soppy sentimental gush and complete indifference. Given the pressure we put these young men (and women) under which is so foreign to any semblance of normal, then I think CA needs to do more. On the surface, I think they have done a better job with Mo but there were so many other things which would have been more beneficial. As a very well informed outsider looking in, my belief is that Symonds true condition was not revealed. I don't wear the "binge drinker, not an alcoholic" line. Its true, but its not all the truth. Better to get the truth out there and get on with it. Maybe that was Symonds own choice. If it was, it was a bad one.

    Too much bloody spin.

    Do our teams travel with psychologists? If not, why not? The idea of a team of explayers with personal knowledge and experience on mental health issues is a beaut. As with most chronic illnesses, being able to talk with someone who "has the monkey" is crucial because there is no explaining, no guilt, just understanding and "what are we going to do about it?"

  4. Sorry ... Roy, not Mo. Same character reference, wrong nickname.

  5. Given your knowledge of Hodge from school days, there seems to be pattern of mega talented boofheads to have come from Victoria: Deano, Merv, Warnie, Hodge ...

    .. still, we could stack them all up against Greg Matthews and call it even and he hasn't got a bootlace of their talent!!!

  6. i think there are 2 epicentres for it in Vic:
    Central Vic (Jones/Hughes)
    and that which i'm familiar with- bayside Melbourne, notably Mentone!
    would explain why my brother is a nufty (went to school at St Bedes with Hodge) and i'm tops- went to school in Sth Melbourne!

  7. Funny, I thought your school in South Melbourne turned my brother into a nufty.

  8. no, that was associating with me that did that!

  9. Do either of you know my brother ... I'm looking for someone to blame!

  10. don't know where he is Lango, but i may have corrupted him too; it is hard to remember through the foggy haze of my past!

    feel free to blame mine; he in turn will pass it on like everything else. OMG! is this agony aunt!

  11. Your brothers I can assure you have nothing on my brother. Soulless, heartless and completely without guilt.
    Doesn't care much for cricket either.

  12. i'll let Leigh know you said that! bit harsh, but as plod i'm sure he is accustomed to that attitude.

    oh, you mean the seppo!

  13. Nice discussion lads. I should reveal a bit about myself here. I am involved in a SA men's health NGO - Men's Health SA. Check us out at

    I think it's important to distinguish between mental health and mental illness. I think it's great that organisations like Beyond Blue do so much to reduce the stigma attached to mental health. Personally they have been fantastic with supplying me with resources in my men's health work and although they have an image of being quite a large org they are in fact very small.

    Lango, I'm glad you've got things under control and mangage your health well. Understanding one's condition is essential to self-management.

  14. Wish it always worked. Blackness is mostly gone but still too many days in a grey shroud.

    Mental health ... mental illness ...tell me your understanding of the defn Leftie ... if that's okay Stoph? Maybe we should take this elsewhere?

  15. It's good by me. i too have an interest. take it away guys.

  16. Ok, this comes from a non-clinical perspective as my background is not nursing, social work etc. I point this out as my thoughts are not based on clinical experience but literature, listening and working with men - therefore a lot of observation.

    Everyone has 'mental health' in the sense there are degrees, or, we experience mental health as a continuum. One issue I see in the area of mental health is a propensity to become very diagnostic in how we view it. By this I mean, for eg, depression has become a readily named and diagnosed condition. Same with anxiety, stress and others. This is not meant to mean that such conditions do not exist, but I think that common human experience has become medicalised.

    For some the naming of a 'condition' brings relief as the daily experience is confusing and distressing. However, the causal factors give a more informative indicator on what is contributing to poor mental health. This may be unemployment, separation from children or any number of life circumstances. Prescribing to alleviate symptoms does nothing to address such causal factors. I would argue that seeing a mental health professional, physical activity, thought diaries, changing eating, avoiding self-medication (commonly drugs and alcohol) will produce more sustainable results.

    So, mental illness. Commonly this relates to bio-chemical changes to 'normal' brain functioning. This may be genetic, it may coincide with or be caused by substance use (or be predisposed by such substance use) or any number of environmental factors. Of course there are also degrees to this but it is more likely to require appropriate diagnosis, medication, understanding and deliberate action.

    This is not meant to mean that anxiety or depression are never mental illnesses. But to put all experience of distress into a category of 'mental illness' does little to assist sufferers or reduce the stigma attached to mental health. This is why I think 'mental health' as a concept is more useful. After a series of set-backs I had several years ago I felt completely overwhelmed. This may be termed 'depression' but in any case I saw a psych for a while and it was a fantastic experience. The visits helped me regain control - or at least a sense of it - and move forward confidently. If I saw a GP now and conveyed the feelings I had I would most likely be told I had 'depression', prescribed drugs and told I had a mental illness (not all GPs do this!).

    This is my opinion lads so feel free to challenge any or all points made here. The experience of mental health or mental illness is so individual, even if symptoms such as seeing/hearing things that others don't are present.

  17. Been a busy weekend Leftie. Settling a little this arvo so will respond sometime during. I like the conceptual thrust of your argument.

  18. Thanks for your patience fellas. Just had a lovely long Sunday. Breakfast with one of my sons, church and then lunch and the afternoon with my wife. She spent most of it bent over her potter's wheel whilst I made shelves for her studio. Think Ghost without the sex or me dying and you'll be close.

    To summarise your comment Leftie:
    * mental health is a continuum and mental illness is one extreme of same;
    * one danger in diagnosis is labelling
    * medication will not address causal factors
    * without causal factors being addressed, its much harder to get well
    * chemical imbalance in the brain underlines amny of the more serious conditions at the illness end of the mental health spectrum
    * the application of psychiatric specialists to these illnesses is important in the healing process.

    I hope I have summarised accurately and fairley Leftie.

    At the outset, let me make it clear I agress with all the points you have made and I'm like only going to expand them.

    I am now what I'd call an expert on bipolar disorder, having been diagnosed eight years ago and having a son and daughter with the "gift" as well. The key issues in getting well were:
    * an accurate diagnosis
    * the right meds and compliance in taking them
    * a support team who don't mind getting their hands dirty and will persevere.
    * a GP who accepts your illness
    * access to expert counselling
    * exercise
    * a creative outlet
    * eating better food more often than bad food
    * luck

    In NSW, we are lucky enough to have The Black Dog Institute who specialise in diagnosis, research, education and raising community awareness on mood disorders.

    But despite all of this, there are still so many pitfalls, especially in Australia and especially for blokes.

    We are taught the ANZAC legend and continue to hold up in reverence sporting heroes who are tough, physically and mentally. As blokes, our treatment of weakness or difference, is almost Darwinian. We weed out the "weak" and disregard them. At best, we tolerate them. With the reality of mental illness being that as many as 1 in 5 men with suffer a form of mental illness in any one year, that means we all know many blokes who are struggling. Yet, we either ignore, dismiss or worse, attact these blokes because they are "weak". If they broke their arm, we'd want to sign the cast.

    Most blokes treat mental illness as you might have treated a cholerha patient or a lepper. Be careful, you might catch it.

    Some of these illness leave the sufferer looking and sounding "different". Different is still not a good thing to be Oz.

    I'm one of the lucky ones. I had a very productive twenty year career as a teacher and then when I crashed a burned, my wife and brother kept me safe and my children came to understand and even accept what was wrong with Daddy. Left me with a lot of guilt which I just can't seem to write or talk away.

    I write to bleed the pressure off. Mostly, it works. I love art galleries but despise pretention. Music ... ah music ... there is always music playing where I am (listening to Joni Mitchell's "Shine" as I type). Talking to people, when I can. Smiling, which I don't do enough of. Crying with an agenda. Photography.

    I don't work anymore, not in a formal way anyway. I've spent a fair bit of time helping other people who are chosen to have "The Gift".

    Long blog. Sorry guys. Important topic. I've written a fair bit about it. A lot of poetry but also had some essays printed in published books. Sorry, think I've raved and raved.

  19. Thanks Lango. Great summary of my points – I’ll keep you in mind as a press writer in years to come!
    I’m happy to hear your strategies have worked and your experience will de-mystify mental health for your children. When we talk about courage it is too often to glorify someone being hit by a cricket ball or some such thing. Thank you for sharing your courageous experience.