Concerns mount over athlete mental health, as Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio takes break

Concerns are mounting over the deteriorating mental health of some of our most decorated athletes. 

Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio has revealed she'll miss the start of the ANZ Premiership, as she deals with ongoing fatigue.

When Ekenasio became the first Silver Ferns captain to lift the Constellation Cup in nine years in March, her smile said it all. 

Little did most people know that inside, she was dealing with serious fatigue that's now sidelined her indefinitely. 

"She was very brave and transparent in coming forward, saying that she needed to have a break to reset herself," Central Pulse chief executive Fran Scholey tells Newshub. "We take mental health or any sort of injury very, very seriously."

Ekenasio sat out last month's pre-season tournament in Otaki, after the Ferns' series win over Australia. An Instagram post revealed to the world her struggles with mental health.

"It takes a lot of courage for someone to talk about that and we all have roles to play in ensuring it isn't taboo any more," Scholey adds.

But Ekenasio isn't the only one reaching out.

White Ferns captain Sophie Devine missed the last two games against Australia with fatigue, while earlier this week, Paralympic star Sophie Pascoe opened up to Newshub about her struggles in the pool.

"Athletes aren't robots," Pascoe says. "We still have bad days, and we still have days when we get up and it's just really tough."

Performance psychologist Rod Corban tells Newshub: "They present this face that they're somehow bulletproof, but they're no more bulletproof than the rest of us."

"There's no question the last 12 months though has taken its toll on elite athletes. A lot of them have spent a lot of time in managed isolation, games have been rescheduled and the uncertainty has just created a lot of pressure."

That pressure is still mounting for many and it's prompted a stark warning from Corban.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see more athletes coming forward. It's actually probably just representative of what we're seeing across the general population."

But for Ekenasio, now is a much needed break to get back to her best.