GREAT Britain archery star Thea Rogers has spoken openly about her battle with mental health problems and how she is trying to help others affected by similar issues.

The 17-year-old began suffering from panic attacks, anxiety and depression after winning a bronze medal at the World Youth Championships in Argentina two years ago.

Quitting archery did cross the Cwmbran teenager’s mind, but a steely determination to tackle her troubles head on and continue competing in the sport she loves won through.

Rogers, who in May shot a new outdoor recurve junior women’s world record, said: “I had a bit of a rough year after going to the worlds in Argentina. I wasn’t sure if I was going to quit, it was that bad, but I pushed through because I love the sport so much and it has paid off.

“I ended up having depression, anxiety and panic attacks with my shooting, which wasn’t great. It was also the second year of my GCSEs and any time I thought about archery I’d have a panic attack. I was thinking, ‘what if I’m in the middle of my exam and it happens?’

“I didn’t do any competitions during the indoor season and just went to the gym as often as I could because I initially thought it was a strength problem.

“I didn’t want to focus on making this team or that team or getting this score or that score. I just thought, ‘I need to sort myself out for next year’.

“My parents haven’t been through it so didn’t know what to say or do to help and it was a bit of struggle for them to understand what I was going through.

“At points they said it was okay if I didn’t want to carry on shooting because they obviously don’t like seeing me upset – but I was too determined to get over it.”

She continued: “I still have my down days every now and then when the problem comes back, but I’ve learnt how to deal with it and what to do. Talking about it has definitely helped me.

“We’ve got a psychologist at Lilleshall (Archery GB’s base) and she helps a lot, she’s brilliant. I always thought that if I talk about it then I’ll get really upset, which I do, but it helps.

“Because if I don’t talk about it then all these thoughts will be running through my mind.”

While doing what she can to manage her situation, Rogers is also looking to become more knowledgeable about mental health in order to improve the lives of fellow sufferers.

“I chose psychology as an A-level subject so I could try and help myself and others,” said the St Alban’s RC High School student.

“I’m also an Archery GB ambassador to help others who are in a similar situation.

“When you look across the board, so many young people in sport are having mental issues and I don’t think it has been that much of a thing in the past.

“Now you have a lot more people opening up and it’s being talked about a lot more, and not just in sport.”

Two years after Argentina, Rogers, complete with her lucky Wales hat, is off to Madrid for next week’s World Youth Championships, where she will again compete in the women’s recurve cadet individual and team events, which start on Tuesday.