Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington attended the opening of an exhibition at the University of Nottingham’s Institute of Mental Health.
The art exhibition, called A Journey: Loneliness, Hope and Resilience, is designed to show off pieces of art created to show how people experience the effects of mental health differently.
The exhibition is also in honour of the institute celebrating its tenth anniversary of existence.
VIDEO: Rebecca Adlington speaks about the issues of mental health
Speaking about the importance of psychology, Rebecca, who is from Mansfield, said: “When you’re younger you have no fear and you don’t really think about sport as it’s just your hobby.
“After Beijing, it became something that was very important as I used a sports psychologist and you ask a lot more questions when you’re older and you realise what an impact it would have.
“You can be in the worst shape of your life but mentally you can be the strongest person in the world and that can win you a race for example.”
Rebecca retired at the age of 23, and speaking about the fact that some retired sports personalities suffer with the deterioration of their mental health, she said: “The key is that I have found passions for other things.
“I’ve found a passion for my Learn to Swim programme, for mentoring the elite guys and for doing the media work as well.
“I realised that my body wouldn’t really carry me forward any more either!”
Rebecca believes that it is only natural to retire at this age because her sport is contested by young people.
She said: “Swimming is a very young sport especially female distant swimming.
“In Beijing, I was 19 when I won my two gold medals and Katie Ledecky was only 15 when she won in London.
“Twenty three sounds really old compared to 15 and 19!”
Everybody experiences mental illness differently
The art exhibition shows how people are affected in different ways by mental health successfully, according to the Chair of City Arts Tim Challans.
He said: “Everybody experiences mental illness differently and this is clear from the incredibly diverse work on display in our latest exhibition.
“Some artists focused on the pain and anguish of loneliness, exploring the role it plays in the development of mental health issues.
“Others take a more hopeful approach, looking at their steps towards recovery.”