It’s the nature of those in the sport industry to want to drive to be the best and compete at the highest level. At DAZN, we pride ourselves on hiring the best people to bring our game-changing OTT service to sport fans across nine countries and counting.
To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week, we brought employees from across DAZN together to discuss the importance of mental health in the workplace. Alongside stress relieving massages and a session with mental health charity MIND, we invited industry professionals to share their expertise on maintaining positive mental health.
Among these were Sports Psychotherapist and broadcaster Gary Bloom, GSK Head of Employee Health and Wellbeing Europe, Monika Misra, and DAZN’s very own Chief Product Officer Ben Lavender, who took to the stage to discuss their past careers and how they’ve dealt with pressures of being at the forefront of technology and sport.
What drew you to work in Mental Health?
Gary Bloom: “I found as a sports broadcaster that when we were working at tournaments and football clubs, the sort of conversations we were having with people were very thin, staged and managed. I never really got any depth with any athlete, this made me really want to go deeper into the psychology of sport as it always fascinated me. Now I have the best job in the world. I now have those honest conversations – I work with a football club, elite athletes and find out what drives them.”
Monika Misra: “When I was studying to become a GP, the rotation I liked the most was psychiatry. More recently with my work within GSK, my work has involved supporting hundreds of thousands of individuals. As a GP you can help one person at a time but being able to set strategies and bringing in products, services and support for employees in big organisation is something I’m passionate about.”
Ben Lavender: “From a personal point of view, I’ve had my own struggles. About 17 years ago I went to go see a psychotherapist and after a year of doing so I found out I was quite fascinated about it and wanted to work on the other side of the table. I did a diploma in psychotherapy and counselling, after which I trained for two years as a psychotherapist. This was actually while I was getting BBC iPlayer off the ground and training for the London Triathlon.”
Why do you think it’s taken so long for the negative effects of stress to be openly discussed in the sport industry?
Gary Bloom: “There is huge prejudice against mental health advocacy inside professional sport. There are only four psychotherapists working at football clubs and there are very few managers who would say they’re comfortable with somebody holding this type of knowledge. Other sports are much more up to speed on this, probably because the people who run these sports are under less pressure.”
Ben Lavender: “Certainly from the research I’ve done into meditation and sport, stress is very prevalent. In the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks coach got all of his team to meditate and they went on to win the Super Bowl. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic are two very successful tennis players who meditate. When you’re under such intense pressure for a very small point of time you have to have absolute focus, because you’re playing against some of the best sportsmen in the world. You’re surrounded by thousands of people and you’re on live television.”
Monika Misra: “The Human Performance Institute, found that those players that are ranked the world’s best are ones that, for example in Tennis, have lower blood pressure and lower respiratory rates between points. They achieve this through training, psychological support and meditating. Small differences can make a massive impact in terms of your performance.
“Bringing it back to the work place, having slightly more attention can have huge impacts not only on effectiveness but our ability to get stuff done and get home earlier to enjoy things in life.”
We caught up with Gary and Monika following their discussion to get their advice on how to deal with pressures of the working world: