Press release: The Professional Cricketers’ Association have launched an innovative new app to help players reduce stress and anxiety

The PCA have worked in partnership with Virtually Free to develop an app which uses four proven relaxation techniques which help reduce stress: calm breathing, meditation, deep muscle relaxation and self-hypnosis.

The app features "Dr Freeman", a virtual doctor, who provides easy to follow demonstrations to teach relaxation techniques and also provides a journal and daily goals to keep people engaged. The app is introduced by Marcus Trescothick, the Somerset and former England batsman, who is supporting the ‘Stress Free’ app.

Marcus states: “We all experience stress and anxiety every day but at times this can be so extreme that it becomes an illness. When it gets to that level it can stop us from getting on with our lives or doing the things we love, like playing cricket,”

“We at the PCA take stress-related illnesses very seriously and we want to raise awareness of them. We want to build a culture that acknowledges that it is OK not to be OK. Our aim is to help our members prevent them when possible or seek help in the early stages if not.” 

“As part of this initiative we have teamed up with a talented team of clinicians and software developers to offer ‘Stress Free’ to our members.”

“This app teaches you to practise four different relaxation techniques which have all shown to be effective in clinical trials. These can help de-stress when anxiety is getting on top of us, but they can also help us become more resilient to stress in general. In particular meditation can build our ability to cope with stress.”

“Just like we take training our body really seriously ‘Stress Free’ encourages us to practice relaxation skills frequently and train your resilience. You cannot focus on your body and forget your mind. You need both to win the game. We hope ’Stress Free’ will help you achieve your goals."

The ‘Stress Free’ app is the latest initiative from the PCA in putting place measures to help reduce stress-related illnesses.

Virtually Free was formed by Consultant Psychiatrists and games developers in order to use technology to provide high quality and accessible psychological help.

“Stress Free is part of our toolkit and picks up the excellent proactive and preventative work being done by the team of Personal Development Managers and resilience sessions with counties across the country run by our partner LPP,” said Jason Ratcliffe, Assistant Chief Executive of the PCA.

“It is an extension of the ‘Mind Matters’ tutorial which we launched three years ago and which has had valuable input from Tim Ambrose, Mike Yardy, Marcus Trescothick, Darren Cousins, Graeme Fowler, Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison.”

“We have also provided all of our members with a special copy of Dr Tim Cantopher’s book ‘Depression – The Curse of the Strong’.”

“We know that one in four of us will be affected by a mental health episode in any year and ‘Stress Free’ is another tool which we hope will help people to cope with anxiety issues in a very private and personal environment.”

Dr Russell Green, Consultant Psychiatrist and co-founder of Virtually Free commented: “These simple but effective treatments are well founded in clinical medical practice and we are providing versions of ‘Stress Free’ to major organisations that wish to take a proactive approach towards managing stress related issues within their populations. We hope that by making the treatments available through accessible technology we can help players of elite sport and others alleviate some of the pressures they face.”      

Christopher Rees, Commercial Director of Virtually Free said “We are delighted to have worked with Marcus Trescothick and the PCA on this initiative and to contribute to the excellent work undertaken by the Association in providing psychological therapy to the players. High profile sportspeople like Marcus act as powerful role models in raising awareness, influencing others and changing culture not just in sport but in organisations and wider society.”