Mental health is a term we are all familiar with these days.

It has been a concern across the wider community, not just in sport.

But as more athletes have spoken out about their mental health under lockdown the topic has been put under the microscope even more.

So many people have been left vulnerable over the last year that it has given way for other people to offer their services to those who might be struggling. 

Ever since I was first diagnosed with a tumour it was like I had turned on a light for self-help gurus to offer me their steps to freedom or mastery programmes. 

The cancer industry is worth billions - and from supplements proclaiming all kinds of wonders to gurus sharing their methods to cure people it is a minefield.

When you’re trying to find hope, these guru’s sales pitches sound very appealing. 

They sometimes even have doctors behind them or a range of testimonials that give them even more power. 

I unfortunately fell culprit to a few of these people in the belief that if I didn’t buy into it then I was risking death or the possibility of missing out on a cure. 

The sales pitch was so powerful on one occasion I even found myself sending parts of my tumour to America.

Or at another point I found myself on a plane to America in search of a cure I had read about.

I had become a target for the guru world and was in many ways desperate to find a cure. So it made it easy for them to find me.  

Dr Google became my ally, and this provided the perfect place for the guru to find me. 

Why do I share this with you? Over the last few weeks as more athletes speak about how much the mind impacts their performance, I have found myself chatting with several athletes who shared stories that concerned me. 

I started to think if this population group was struggling then this may be true of the wider community, and what do lots of us do when we struggle? 

We google those symptoms and start reading - which can take us down some dangerous rabbit holes. 

Only this week I came across those famous words in neuroscience: “Neurons that fire together wire together”.

This has become a buzz word in the coaching industry and often used with no background or reference to the original work from Dr Carla Shatz from Stanford who developed the term. 

I found myself listening to an impressive sales pitch based on her work but with no reference to her at any point. Again, why do I share this? 

Through my mistakes I have learned it is easy to fall for a sales pitch when you’re vulnerable. A recent study conducted by the mental health charity Mind highlighted that around 1.6 million people are currently waiting for support. 

That is a lot of people seeking help, and it provides an easy environment for untrained or unqualified people to offer up their services as mind coaches, trainers, or life coaches. 

Many of these words are not protected in the UK and you can find someone who has very little knowledge calling themselves a therapist. 

This can not just leave you out of pocket but leas to issues which turn out to be very traumatic. 

It is not to say these people don’t know what they are talking about - sometimes they can be very well read - but they can also cause great harm. 

If like me you struggle mentally, there is no shame in this, but before you open up to any online coach first ask to see their credentials.

Life experience is not enough to be a therapist. 

In the sports world, most teams have a sports psychologist, but even they have limits if it’s regarding a more clinical issue. 

I would not be able to get through my life of cancer and spinal injury if I didn’t have someone to talk with.

I use a clinical psychologist and have seen several different therapists since my paralysis - along with studying a Master’s degree in psychology myself and this has given me the tools to manage both health conditions and life. 

It has given me an insight - and made me concerned about the numbers of people who are vulnerable and spending money on non-regulated coaches in any field. 

So before you sign up with any coach check those credentials.