25 January 2022
Building the mindset of a Champion
Dan McCabe, European representative for the WorldSkills Champions Trust, struggled with depression as a Competitor and is now raising awareness of mental health issues and the help available from the WorldSkills movement.
Dan McCabe is the European representative for the WorldSkills Champions Trust, a gold medal winner in 3D Digital Art at the UK national championships and EuroSkills Gothenburg 2016, and a Competitor at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017. Yet he would be the first to admit, his path to success has not always been easy, particularly with the depression he suffered as a Competitor.
Dan admits he was “in a pretty bad place” at times. “Even if from the outside looking in, I should be bouncing off the walls, being mega-happy at the time. But that was definitely not the case.”
What pulled him through, Dan says, was the support he received from WorldSkills UK.
“They absolutely took me under their wings. I spoke openly to them about it, and they were so supportive - it was amazing. They helped to support the therapy I needed, which was the catalyst I needed to get my mind back on track and return to what I would describe as my happy self.”
Competitors, he says, naturally put themselves under pressure to do their best and reach the highest standards. With most competitors in their teens, it can seem overwhelming. He recalls not sleeping the nights before a Competition.
Having a good support network is crucial, he says. “It doesn’t matter who you talk to. It can be your family, it can be your friends, it can be a co-worker. It’s a support network. And sometimes finding that is the hardest part of dealing with mental health challenges.”
Dan recognizes that admitting you are suffering from problems has often been the hardest part, “especially with men and the old stereotypes like men can’t cry.”
The good thing, Dan says, is that “those stereotypes are beginning to lift and the sensitive side of people is starting to show, not just around gender or race but also mental health.”
While Dan has nothing but praise for the support he received from the WorldSkills movement — “it just makes me so proud of being part of it” — he would like to see more awareness in the world of work, where time off may be readily given for a stomach bug or bad cold, but much less so for mental health issues.
Dan says raising awareness of mental health is “one of my personal goals as part of the Champions Trust, and I think the wider goals of the Champions Trust as well. Mental health in young people is a huge issue.”