When World Mental Health Day fell in the middle of the BNP Paribas Open, it was unsurprisingly a hot topic for the players in this year's tournament. 

Iga Swiatek, whose sports psychologist, Daria Abramowicz, is an integral part of her team, announced she would donate $50,000 of her prize money to a mental health non-profit organization. The 2020 Roland Garros champion drew a link between looking after her mental health and her on-court performance.

"It was always important to use that kind of help," she said after her third-round win over Veronika Kudermetova. "I always thought that in my mental toughness there is some strength that I can use on court and I can also develop in that manner."

Swiatek was inspired, she said, by former World No.1 Venus Williams' initiative, in collaboration with BetterHelp and the WTA, to provide $2m of free therapy to the public.

Another major champion, Victoria Azarenka, discussed the progress society has made in terms of mental health awareness, emphasising that it should be protected, treated and viewed in the same way as physical health.

"I think the world is changing their perception of what mental health is," Azarenka said after defeating rival Petra Kvitova in the third round. "We have that empathy when we see somebody who is physically hurt. You feel a certain empathic emotion towards somebody. Mental health is something that is invisible. I think it is as strong, as powerful as any physical health."

Two players with a keen awareness of the importance of psychology to the game are Ajla Tomljanovic and Shelby Rogers, both of whom posted career-best results at Indian Wells this fortnight.

En route to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon this year, Tomljanovic opened up about the negativity that had afflicted her in her career, admitting questions would run through her mind such as, "Am I going to lose it mentally? Am I going to in a way choke or something?" The Australian also reflected on "heartbreaking moments" where she had lost leads against top players and said, "Mentally those matches took a little bit of a toll. It got in my head."

Tomljanovic upsets Muguruza for 1st Top 10 win of year: Indian Wells Highlights

2021 Indian Wells

That was another demon Tomljanovic exorcised in Indian Wells, upsetting Garbiñe Muguruza in the second round for the fourth Top 10 win of her career. Afterward, she expanded on what she had needed to overcome - and how she has done it this year.

"Sometimes it's hard to accept that maybe where I thought I'd be, I didn't hit those marks," said Tomljanovic, who won her first WTA main-draw match in 2010 at the age of 16. "It builds in my mind that I kind of failed. Then I want it even more.

"I'm a big thinker. I will overthink even the smallest things, which sometimes works for me and other times doesn't. On top of that I just want it so much a lot of the time. There's that little kid in me, all I wanted to ever do was play tennis and win. I get into situations when it's, like, really within my reach. It's tennis, it happens, you don't always win. I sometimes make it bigger than it is."

"It's what drives me to be better, but it's also what kicks me when I'm already down. Sometimes it keeps me there longer than I want to be."

- Ajla Tomljanovic on the double-edged sword of being tough on herself.

Tomljanovic said at Wimbledon that she had always been a "glass half-empty" person - and she has needed to work on this.

"Positivity, it's so cliché, but it speeds up everything, everything bad happening in your life," she said after the win over Muguruza. "I'm learning to do that. ... I'm learning how to relax and stay competitive, but without having that added pressure from myself because it can be a curse a little bit.

'What's been really helpful this year is I've just accepted that whatever happens, happens and I have to move on and then try again. I don't try to dwell on the past or on the losses too long."

Tomljanovic's boyfriend, ATP World No.7 Matteo Berrettini, also shared some psychological insight.

"I know her, and I think I know how much she's tough on herself," he said after defeating Alejandro Tabilo in the second round. "I'm always telling her that she has to kind of tell herself that she achieved a lot during her career, and she has to enjoy what she's doing. ... I think it's good to feel bad in the bad moments, but I think it's worth it to feel good when the things are going well."

Berrettini also drew a contrast between his gradual career progression and Tomljanovic's success as a teenager.

"The expectations were different," he said. "At 17, 18, 19, she was really, really good. At 19 I think she was already in the Top 100. At 19, I didn't have any ATP points. So different career, different perspectives. I grew up with more calm, and I didn't see in my career such a big jump. ... I was working for it, but I didn't know it would happen. Sometimes when you put too much pressure you're thinking too much. This sport sometimes you don't have to think too much."

Tomljanovic described being tough on herself as a double-edged sword.

"It's what drives me to be better, but it's also what kicks me when I'm already down," she said. "Sometimes it keeps me there longer than I want to be."

But now, she's appreciating her achievements instead of dwelling on her losses.

"I think it's always going to be a learning process for me. It never comes easily. But it's definitely so worth it when I do get it right because like even when I'm playing well, I'm always ready for anything."

If overcoming self-doubt and negativity has been crucial to Tomljanovic's mental game, Rogers had a slightly different take on the notion of confidence. The received wisdom is that mental strength and on-court confidence go hand in hand, but the American begs to differ.

"Confidence is tricky and a little bit overrated, in my opinion," she said after upsetting US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez in a third-set tiebreak to reach the quarterfinals. "It can kind of come and go."

For Rogers, she has simplified the subject by thinking in practical terms about tactics and technique.

"You could see it as confidence is always there in a way, and you have it, you just have to pull it out at certain moments," she explained. "What we all strive to do, one point at a time, is stay in the moment and not worry about, 'Oh, am I confident to hit this shot or not?' It's just, 'Do I need to hit the shot? Is this the right one to hit?' That's what it comes down to.

"If confidence gets in your head too much, that's what I mean by overrated. Like it can sway you one way or another. I don't think it needs to have that power."

- Shelby Rogers on why the notion of confidence is overrated.

"It's more experience for me that brings the 'confidence,' but I think people just put a lot of emphasis on confidence. I think you can win a lot of matches without it, if you're really good at bluffing it and you have good body language and you have good tactics and you win the right points at the right time.

"If confidence gets in your head too much, that's what I mean by overrated. Like it can sway you one way or another. I don't think it needs to have that power. At least that's what I'm telling myself."

While Swiatek, Tomljanovic and Rogers can all point to mental health as key to their games, Azarenka pointed out that it is a holistic issue, not simply about improving on-court results.

"I think that mental health is everything there is," she said. "It's how well you feel not necessarily on the court, but off the court. To prepare young people now with all the social media, how are they able to sustain their inner balance with themselves. I think that's super important."

The Belarusian also emphasised that mental health awareness is not just an individualistic pursuit, but one that should facilitate greater social understanding.

"In the end of the day we're all people, have emotions," she said. "No matter how much someone is trying to play a certain role or wear a certain mask, it's all very visible to a good eye. I think it's an important conversation. I hope this conversation continues."