Sport and Mental Health with Nurul Suhaila and John Yeong: Beyond The Label

Singapore Silat athlete Nurul Suhaila and Sports Presenter John Yeong discuss the issue of mental health among elite athletes amidst high profile incidents in the International arena


21 September 2021, Singapore - In a year that has seen the spotlight cast on the mental health of elite athletes, we take a look at some of the more pertinent issues that are pervasive for the modern athlete.

While Naomi Osaka's withdrawal from the French Open and Simone Biles' refusal to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are high profile cases, much closer to home, Team Singapore's athletes have had to deal with intense scrutiny when they fail to meet expectations on the field of play.

In an organised panel dialogue session by Beyond the Label over the weekend, Team Singapore athlete and Silat World champion Nurul Suhaila, together with sports presenter and host John Yeong shared an open conversation with the community on how the pressures of modern sport play out a different dynamic for elite athletes, even as studies show that sport can bring many benefits for the average person's mental health.


From keyboard warriors who have attacked Singapore's athletes in football, to the media outcry on Joseph Schooling's performance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics among others, many appear to have forgotten that athletes are fundamentally human at the end of the day.

And behind the anonymity of screens, empathy has been found to be sorely missing. Here is an abstract of the "Workout Your Body and Mind" segment interview from Beyond The Label Fest 2021.

To watch the full interview and workout led by Nurul Suhaila and John Yeong, visit Beyond The Label's Facebook or YouTube. And sign up for other sessions and activities on Beyond The Label's website.


John: It's almost as if I have to be a certain way, or achieve a certain objective, or win a certain competition, otherwise I am not as good as my teammates, not as good as my sister or brother. And these need to be put out there a lot more to have these open conversations, and I think it's great that you are stepping up, and we are having this open conversations so that aspiring athletes and people out there realise they are not alone.

Studies have shown in 2016 that 1 in 7 Singaporeans have encountered mental health conditions over the course of their lifetimes.

On Keyboard warriors' nasty comments on athletes:

Suhaila: Firstly you already have pressure on yourself to win, from your coaches and family, and now your life is open up to the public to judge.

This is what most athletes feel. When you are doing well, everyone is like "I've always thought you had it in you" and they'll show you support and encouragement, but then you lose a game and everyone has something to say about it.


I guess what people forget is that we are human, we are real people with feelings. On the internet, it's just a screen so they are more brave to say whatever they want. Forgetting that we (athletes) are reading it and taking it into consideration.

If I'm having a bad day, and then I just come online and then here you are telling me "you suck".

Athletes need a lot of support and encouragement, especially online. Even if they come back with results that people don't expect, or they expect you to win a gold and you come back with a bronze.

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