'THERE'S been times when it's really bad...'

England and Somerset spinner Dom Bess has revealed keeping on top of his fitness has proven a suitable distraction from the anxiety he felt when learning the country was going into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bess last month opened up about his mental health struggles in an interview with a national newspaper and he discussed the topic further, including what can influence his "triggers", in a chat with former Somerset team-mate Marcus Trescothick.

The pair's conversation - during Mental Health Awareness Week - took place on Zoom, a necessity due to the Government measures imposed by the ongoing public health crisis.

He said: "I've actually been alright during the lockdown. I was very anxious about the situation, not knowing how long it could be, but getting that structure in has really helped me.

"Getting out running and fit always gets me in a positive mindset and having a bit of structure.

"I know how it affects me. I always call them triggers. Even little things like the weather. It is funny how little things like that can just change the whole atmosphere within my mood.

"There's times where it's been really bad and I really struggle to get out of bed and the motivation is not there any more.

"I struggle with that quite a lot and getting going is always the hardest part for me, certainly in this lockdown.

"There's been little triggers but I'm fortunate enough to have two people in my household, my girlfriend and my housemate, to make sure that I'm alright and keep going with it."

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SUPPORT: Somerset cricket legend, Marcus Trescothick

Bess reignited his Test career with a five-wicket haul against South Africa in Port Elizabeth in January, part of a busy winter in which he also travelled to India, Australia and Sri Lanka.

The 22-year-old cited working with a psychologist who knows nothing about cricket - funded by the Professional Cricketers' Trust, a PCA-associated charity created to support the health and well-being of members and their immediate families - as crucial to his development in recent months.

He added: "Getting someone away from the game was so helpful for me, because it was as much outside life for me as it was about cricket. She is absolutely amazing and she only lives half an hour away.

"She certainly helped me plan the tours. I was really anxious about going away and I was hoping I was going to be okay, but we had quite a few sessions to get a real understanding of putting things into place to manage it.

"Offloading is a really hard thing to do but knowing you've got someone there is massive. I genuinely do feel a weight off my shoulders."

Bess was one of 40 current players supported in 2019 by the Trust, which is set for a £250,000 shortfall this year because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Trescothick, the Trust director and himself a pioneer with regards to mental health in sport, spoke about how he has found the transition to coaching after ending his 26-year playing career at the end of the 2019 season.

The former England opener worked with the national side during the Ashes last year and the Twenty20 portion of the South Africa tour in February.

He said: "I was worried for a long time about what it would feel like and how it would go.

"But I've been pleasantly surprised, actually. It's been quite nice to have that release of pressure, to not have the burden or scrutiny of everything on top of you, the ups and downs.

"I would say it's made me a lot more level-headed although I still manage the mental health stuff around it. I'm more situational with my mental health now than I was when I was playing."

Mental Health Awareness Week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation and which runs until Sunday, was this year based around the theme of Kindness, in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

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Mark Rowland, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Now more than ever, we need to re-discover kindness in our daily lives.

“We want to use Mental Health Awareness Week to celebrate the thousands of acts of kindness that are so important to our mental health. And we want to start a discussion on the kind of society we want to shape as we emerge from this pandemic.

“Kindness unlocks our shared humanity and is central for our mental health. It has the potential to bring us together with benefits for everyone, particularly at times of great stress.

“One thing we have seen all over the world is that kindness is prevailing in uncertain times, helping people to connect and communities to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Kindness is also a vital way we can help support the millions of people who were experiencing mental health problems long before the pandemic started.

“The research clearly supports this – it shows that acts of kindness can help improve emotional wellbeing. This is true whether we are giving or receiving it.”

Somerset County Council has a range of resources available for those struggling with their mental health during the crisis, at www.somerset.gov.uk/coronavirus/covid-19-mental-health-information, while Mindline Somerset’s Coronavirus emotional support helpline runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on 01823 276892.