On the face of it, professional athletes are superhumans. Herculean-like figures that are seemingly immortal, unbreakable and untouchable. They are warriors in idealised professions, immune from fragility and exempt from weaknesses. They are well-oiled machines that are tuned to perform to the highest standards both mentally and physically.

Globally, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from a mental illness. That’s about 5% of the world’s population. One in five people suffer from depression during their life. The figures are harrowing. Contradictory to our preconception and ignorance, sportsmen and women aren’t immune, they are part of the statistics. They are human, the same as you and I.

According to experts, up to 15% of elite athletes suffer from depression. The illness has been, and will continue to be a taboo subject in a manly sporting world. Dismissed and misconceived because of the antiquated attitude still dominating wider society. It’s just how it is, but the stigma attached to depression and mental illness is gingerly waning.

The negativity surrounding the issue is unpreventable and inevitable. The cynics question how well-paid sportsmen and women can descend to such a mental state. Their every action and move is analysed and revered. They’re widely acclaimed and idealised but as Australian batsman, Ed Cowan, said ‘they spend more time thinking about their next inevitable failure than the next success. That's the psyche of cricketers.’

The nature of cricket, more than any other sport, seems to chip away at player’s mind. A recent survey conducted by the Professional Cricketers Association in England found that 5% of its members had sought help for mental health problems. Is it the unpredictability, the fear of failure or the importance applied to statistics - runs and wickets - that makes cricket such a mentally draining sport?

In few other sports does a player spend hours, possibly days in the confines of the dressing room, patiently waiting for action. There is ample time to battle the demons in their mind, contemplate failure and watch teammates thrive in the face of their adversity. Or is it the prolonged periods away from family and friends? On average, an international cricket team spend 44 weeks of the year on the road, living out of a suitcase in foreign surroundings. No matter how plush the hotel or how good the room service, it’s not home.

Does the sport attract these type of self-obsessed and driven individuals or does cricket provide the breeding ground for anxiety and mental illness? Undoubtedly, it’s the latter.

John Mooney is the latest player to speak out. He won’t be the last, but in finding the courage to do so, he’s raising the issue further. If it’s a problem that becomes widely accepted then more people, like John, whether in sport or not, will find the strength to come out and seek help and not suffer in silence.

In a week when former Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe was admitted to rehab for depression, there is a greater feeling that society is beginning to ‘accept’ it and the stigma is being removed. As Mooney began his journey home - and ultimately his road to recovery - people from all over the world took to social media to wish the all-rounder well, giving him the support that will hopefully help him make a full recovery.

None of this would be imaginable, however, if Marcus Trescothick had not written about his depression and mental illness so openly and candidly in his autobiography. It allowed cricket and sport to take a mature approach to the problem.

What’s the first things that comes into your mind when you hear the term “stress-related illness”? Weak, imperfect, fragile? The negativity is slowing waning thanks to the courage of high-profile stars such as Mooney to make their illness public.

For many, it’s difficult to comprehend. Such a revelation leads to questions with no answers. It comes out of the blue and is difficult to wrap your head around. That shouldn’t be the source of astonishment, however. One startling aspect of the Cricket Ireland statement is something that many would overlook. The acknowledgement that John has been managing psychological difficulties ‘for some time’ is mind-numbing.

Following Jonathan Trott’s departure from the recent Ashes tour due to a similar illness, Sky Sports commentator Nasser Hussain said “Being a professional sportsman is like taking an exam every day with the whole world watching.''

However, for those not afflicted with depression, there are no comparisons. The fact that Mooney managed such a psychologically crippling illness whilst performing on the international stage at the very highest level is hugely commendable and only further accentuates his brilliance in a green jersey.

Hopefully we’ll see John back in the middle sooner rather than later. But, his brave actions will hopefully allow more people suffering in silence to speak out and seek the help they need. It’s another step in the right direction.