Meet the people
behind the movement
Together we can make a difference
Whether it’s through our own experiences, extensive research or a combination of both: we know what it’s like to be limited by our mental state of being. As a result, we form a group of case studies to learn from, while being driven to the bone to help others with their struggle, as well.
“We want you to know, that you are not alone”
“During my football career, I have had some major positive and negative experiences. If I would have had someone in my life who would have stood by and guided me in those moments, I would have made different choices. By opening up about our struggles and worries, we can be that person to others.”
“My mental toughness has been tested many times in the past. At different times in my life, I had to deal with this burden.
The first time was when I lost both my grandfathers in one summer, at a young age. Shortly after, during and after the divorce of my parents, while I was just starting high school, an extremely intense period followed in which my mother suffered from depression and I no longer recognized her. Moreover, I had to deal with very heavy blows in some of my relationships, as well.
It is all part of life and many things are beyond your control. You always have to push through and no matter how dark your horizon seems, always remember that light shines behind it. I always tell my family, that everything will be fine. I know from experience. All of us have our own metaphorical backpack to carry. Share its contents with one another. It will create a connection. You can lighten the load while helping someone else at the same time.
Therefore, I feel privileged to be part of the Play Mental Team.”
“Like everyone else, I have experienced and had to deal with setbacks, both privately and professionally.”
“As a leading woman in a male-dominated corporate world, I have silently dealt with overload, pressure, undervaluation, dishonesty, inequality, jealousy, aggression and unfortunately also sexual harassment. In my relationships, I also had my share of grief because of deceit, disappointment and aggression. The feeling of shame, failure and fear of losing face has kept me from talking about these problems with my loved ones for a long time.”
“If only I had let those around me know sooner that I was having a hard time, they could have helped me, because the moment I shared my stories I immediately received full support from my family and friends. In the end that was a great relief, the first step towards liberation! I was able to think clearly again and take steps to turn things around.”
“Now. I am an independent entrepreneur and have learned to speak up when things do not feel right and turn things around. If my story helps or inspires just one person, it was worth sharing! I have found my place within the Play Mental Foundation for several reasons, a team of like-minded people who fight for the same goal.”
“My tips? Do not bottle up your emotions, discuss more quickly what is bothering you, do not lie awake at night about things that might happen, learn to put things into perspective, learn what is within your power to change and let go of what you have no control over.”
“Ever since I was young, I have struggled with periods of uncertainty and restlessness in my head. Now that I am older I know how to deal with this a lot better after it got slightly worse first.
When I was young I thought the threshold to talk about these issues was too high, which scared me. When I heard of Play Mental, I immediately had the feeling that I could have used a foundation like this in my younger years.
I hope that we can support many people through our work with the foundation and that the barrier to talk about mental health is lowered in the future.”
Samar Al Zayer
“I am a Counselling and Clinical Psychologist with years of experience in both Europe and the Middle East, working with clients from all over the world to help them better understand and navigate their thoughts and emotions using a variety of therapeutic methods.”
“I am passionate and an advocate for mental health and encourage the normalisation of mental health in many different cultures and backgrounds.”
Roy van der Marel
“Ever since I can remember, I have struggled with a feeling of insecurity. While I seemed to go through life with ease, there was always a feeling that I was underperforming or even failing. Whether it was at school, at work, in relationships, on the football pitch, nothing ever felt 100% right. There was always the pursuit to reach a higher level, that kept me from ever being fully satisfied.
As a result, I could never cope with failure or negative feedback. My insecurities challenged me to push myself on and on. Until I cracked. My mind and body could not take it anymore. I collapsed and suffered from burnout- and depression symptoms for months.
After finding the professional help I needed, I managed to get back up on my feet again. These coaches taught me how to accept myself for who I was. To address the issues I can control and not let outside factors influence my well-being. I had to learn these lessons the hard way. Hopefully, we can prevent others from having to do so as well.”
“Somewhere during the pandemic, I reached a point where I started realizing the importance of one’s mental health. At the time, I was still a student and like everyone else, had to study from home. Being completely isolated from all (physical) social contacts – in your prime years – and the pressure to both self-study from home and graduate in time, started to take its toll on most students.
It quickly became clear to me that most students, including myself, felt either less motivated to do anything or experienced anxiety (attacks) and/or symptoms of depression. Because it seems socially unacceptable to openly talk about the consequences for your mental health, many of us suffered behind closed doors. Unnecessary, if you would ask me. Everyone should be able to talk about their mental health and ask for help/support because you are never alone. Therefore, I am beyond grateful to be a part of Play Mental, a much-needed platform.”
Mental Performance Coach
“I work as a mental performance coach for professional athletes, D1 college athletes and business owners. I have got a passion to help people achieve their goals and be at their best when it matters the most!”
“The reason I joined Play Mental was that I love what we’re spreading the word of mental health and giving people actionable strategies to deal with the ups and downs that life throws at us.”
“The values and principles of the people working for Play Mental are very much in line with my personal values so it was a no-brainer to work with such a talented and kind group of people!”
“For years I played football at a high level, was on several selections, including in the Dutch national team and played football for a Serie A club in Italy. My two children aged 15 and 19 have taken over my passion. I now enjoy that to the fullest.”
“A few years ago I started working as a sports psychologist/mental coach. My motivation to change course was that as a soccer mom, I saw a lot of talent go to waste because they were not offered help/support mentally.”
“Over the years I have been able to develop myself well and noticed that my strength lies in mentally supporting top athletes. I support Dutch professional footballers who play abroad and now play for their country as regulars. With some of them, I have experienced successes such as (dream) transfers to a new club at home or abroad, overcoming her/his fears, (European) debuts and much more. Since this year I can call myself ‘international’. Something I am enormously proud of.”
“I distinguish myself by being personal, looking for the core, engaging in the process and focusing on performance. Each person’s process at the pace that best suits the athlete.”
“The click and connection I experience with the top athletes are unprecedented and very beautiful, this I would like to continue and further develop at Play Mental Foundation. A foundation made up of beautiful people with big hearts. I am proud and honored to be part of the team. The beauty of this is that the team consists of different characters, but complements each other in his or her strength. Being positive in life and connecting is also a high priority in this.”
“Let’s Play Mental!”
Rachel van Beem
“As a behavioural scientist, anthropologist, (youth) coach and trainer, I am motivated like no other to raise awareness of the issues of mental health.”
“After years of providing training to young people but also working with them a lot on a one-to-one basis and in groups, I decided it was time to use my interdisciplinary expertise to develop training sessions on mental health together with Play Mental. How can we work together and ensure that young people get more support with their emotions and thoughts?”
“The personal stories I sometimes get from young people on a daily basis (think panic attacks, sexual abuse, self-harm, depression, aggression and suicidal thoughts) as well as my personal experiences with them keep me motivated daily to do my part to contribute. I am therefore super proud to be part of the Play Mental team.”