Champion jockey Blake Shinn has shed a light on his mental health battles as he takes time to recover from a broken neck.
The 31-year-old shared his story on his blog as part of Mental Illness Awareness Week hoping it could help others talk about their challenges.
“I know I’m not alone in this mental health struggle,” Shinn wrote.
“A lot of jockeys have battles. Actually, it affects a lot of people in the racing industry, and is not often publicly spoken about or admitted to, especially by men.”
Shinn explained as a young jockey he turned to gambling – something that is illegal for his profession. He was disqualified and received help.
However, this wasn’t his only struggle, with depression causing Shinn to neglect his race preparation which led to a lapse in form.
“The depression felt like physical exhaustion. It took every ounce of motivation just to get up each day,” Shinn sadi.
He spoke of the support trainers Gai Waterhouse and the late Guy Walter gave him in this dark time, as well as going on anti-depressants.
Shinn was riding Pacific Legend at Randwick when he slipped from the saddle and was rushed to hospital on October 13.
He had fractures to his C1 and C3 vertebrae and will be out of action on the track for up to six months.
Shinn has used his time off to learn more about nutrition, to do media training and plans to travel to attend some of the best racing meetings around the world.
Shinn was the winner of the 2008 Melbourne Cup on the Bart Cummings-trained Viewed.
He won his first Group One race as an apprentice and his big-race wins include the TJ Smith, Sires’ Produce Stakes and the Epsom and Doncaster Handicaps last season on Happy Clapper.
Racing NSW Trainers and Participants Assistance program
https://www.beyondblue.org.au 1300 22 4636