New initiative to ease pressures of racing
FORMER trainer Jason Petch almost succumbed to the pressures of racing.
He suffered depression and anxiety, using cocaine, speed and alcohol until attempting suicide 14 months ago.
His program Behind The Barriers provides confidential and independent clinical psychologists to the industry.
"I thought the industry needed something to help people - instead of saying you're on drugs, you're no good, we want to be able to help people," Petch said.
"If your mind's not right, it's going to have an impact on your productivity and let's not forget it's also dangerous dealing with a 500kg animal while in that state of mind."
Mental illness affected one in five Australians, but one in three in racing, he added.
In his own case, Petch was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety as a 23-year-old.
He had success as a trainer with metropolitan winners Free Of Doubt and Weekend Special but said when he had a winner he could only enjoy it for a few minutes.
"The demands of the industry got worse with extra meetings. Even having to be interviewed on television after a win added an extra dimension of pressure," he said.
"Our job is to get people to pick up the phone."