Everyone assumes super successful people effortlessly have their sh*t together. But Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff says he has been seeing a psychiatrist since 2004. He told @timessport he reckons he’s had more than 500 hours of therapy and that “I have suffered mentally, I still do.”
He added: “Getting help is a way of overcoming my problems, and it has helped me to access untapped potential. I’ve never had any problems with the stigma. Some of the most successful people are very, very sensitive and very, very sensitive means very, very vulnerable.”
“High profile people who seem to have everything but are struggling, I think we have an obligation to say we’re getting help and it’s ok to get help.”Toto Wolff
It’s not the first time Wolff has talked about mental health. Last year he told a reporter that mental health is “tremendously important” to him and said living in glamourous environs doesn’t automatically make you happy. With these kinds of comments, Wolff is helping break down the stigma around mental health, and helping people realise it’s ok – indeed it’s normal – not to have your shit together.
The comments left next to @mercedesamgf1’s sharing of Wolff’s interview on Instagram suggest many people were inspired by his words.
It’s ok not to be ok. What’s important is you know it’s ok to seek help, or open up to someone, in order to manage your feelings of insecurity. It’s also a good reminder from Wolff that vulnerability can be a strength. It’s not something you should be ashamed of.
McLaren’s Lando Norris is another F1 figure who has been open about his mental health (and whose mental health admission in 2021 was a wake up call for millennials everywhere). Norris entered his first official Formula One race at just 19, and faced a lot of public scrutiny very early in his career.
He told journalists on British talk show This Morning: “If I have a bad weekend, I just think ‘I’m not good enough’. When these things add up over a season, and then you have the social media side of it all, that can just really start to hurt you.”
As Autoevolution reports, “F1 is a challenging sport that has a lot of moving parts. Teams, suppliers, sponsors, regulators, and partners need to work incredibly well together to achieve that coveted win at the end of the season without any doubts or controversies.”
“It’s no wonder that all this pressure can at some point break a person if there’s no work done with and for your mind.”Autoevolution
Beyond sport, it’s an important recognition that many men are making of late – looking after your mental ‘wellness’ should be similar to working out a muscle – something you do regularly and without shame.
Hopefully we get to a day soon where having a genuine chat with a mate or a therapist (or meditating) is seen as no bigger deal than going to the gym or a physio.
As the stats show, we’re getting closer to breaking down the stigma – and that’s something to be applauded, and something statements like Wolff’s and Norris’ help with – but we’re not quite there yet.