THERE is only so much encouragement a struggling athlete can take. "If I heard "keep your chin up" or "don't worry, it will turn soon" one more time I think I was going to punch someone."

There is a playful note in Adam Hall's voice – he doesn't seem the aggressive type – but the message is entirely serious. Hall is one of Scotland's leading badminton players but for a spell in the second half of last year nothing seemed to be going right.

Reluctant to discuss his feelings with colleagues or coaches, the 23 year-old wound himself up into a state of pent-up anger and frustration. His mental health deteriorated to the point where he found himself at home at night "just sitting on the couch not doing anything. I felt a bit trapped".

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Hall and his men's doubles partner Alex Dunn had enjoyed a strong performance at the world championships in August. Then it all fell apart.

"We had a really poor first tournament after the worlds and then a close defeat in the quarters at the next event," he explains. "And I then had a bit of a mental breakdown.

"Elite sport isn't easy of course. But my problem was that for nine months I just bottled everything up. I didn't want to talk about it. I didn't want to say I wasn't enjoying it. But I wasn't at all.

"I had to phone the coaches and take some time off where I didn't think about badminton. I just couldn't continue any more. There were a lot of things going on in the background that I wasn't enjoying. So I felt I just had to take a step back and try to get a bit of perspective."

It proved to be a shrewd and cathartic move. And when put on the spot and asked if he had reached the end of the line, Hall found, to his partial surprise, that deep down he had no desire to quit a sport he had been playing for 20 years.

"Taking a break and talking things over really helped as I'd been finding it hard to find any positives from things. I felt we had been playing well but not winning and it was so frustrating. And it all seemed to hit me at once.

"I went home to my parents' for a few days to chill out, played with my dog and went to see my gran. Just normal stuff. Badminton can be such a bubble when you're doing it full time. And sometimes you just need to step away.

"It was just three days but it made such a difference to my mental health. I knew I had to start enjoying it more. I couldn't keep hating life.

"We have access to a performance lifestyle adviser, Shirley Addison, at the Institute of Sport who is the nicest person on the planet. So I had a two-hour chat with her and it made me feel so much better.

"She asked me what I would do if I quit the sport. And it made me realise that I still wanted to play badminton. That made it easier to go on."

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Hall admits a more enlightened attitude towards mental health problems has helped him to open up.

"It used to be as an athlete if you talked about feeling down or not enjoying it people saw you as weak. You would be told to "man up" or "get over it" and that was it. Now, though, it's much easier to come out and talk without being judged.

"It's been helpful that more and more elite athletes have been coming out and talking about their mental health. That made me realise I had to talk to my coaches about how I was feeling. I had to be more honest with the people around me."

It had the desired effect. In the next tournament after addressing his issues, Hall and Dunn reached the final. Then a few weeks later they surpassed that by winning the Scottish Open in front of their home crowd.

He and Dunn will be back on court this week looking to defend their national crown for a third time in a row, while there is a mixed doubles title to retain with Julie MacPherson. And Hall, from Mauchline in Ayrshire, does so with a whole new approach.

"When I came back I felt more relaxed as I wasn't as stressed about losing as much. We made it to the final of the Irish Open and then went on to win the Scottish Open a few weeks later. The fact it was our home tournament gave me such a huge boost to end the year. I've hopefully proved that talking about things can also help with your performance."