On World Mental Health Day 2018 today (10 October) UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport (EIS) have unveiled increased measures to facilitate a positive mental health environment across the Olympic and Paralympic sport system.
A new Mental Health Strategy, developed by a Mental Health Steering Group that had representation from leading mental health charity MIND, has been launched today and will be implemented by National Governing Bodies (NGBs) across the Tokyo Cycle. It consists of four key pillars which are: education, provision, communication and assurance.
Support already in place includes a network of external psychiatrists and psychologists, based at the Priory Hospital, which can be referred to by EIS medical teams, as well as in-house support from National Governing body and EIS doctors, psychologists and Performance Lifestyle advisors.
To help raise awareness of mental health issues both in sport and more generally, UK Sport and the EIS have also launched a new video featuring high profile figures from Olympic and Paralympic sport.
Other UK Sport and EIS measures regarding mental health include:
• The appointment of a new Head of Mental Health in the coming weeks to lead the implementation of the strategy
• The development of a new Mental Health Expert Panel that will include psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, with experience of elite sport, to provide guidance for the high performance system in dealing with mental health issues.
• A mental health screening process, which will see NGBs developing mental health monitoring and support programmes for athletes from induction to after exit from World Class Programmes.A dedicated mental health section on the EIS website which will help signpost athletes and staff to the correct support areas. It is available at: https://www.eis2win.co.uk/resources/
UK Sport Chair Dame Katherine Grainger said: “World Mental Health Day provides a fantastic platform to focus on this very important area that doesn’t always get the attention it should.
“In both sport and society, it is vital that we work towards creating the most positive mental health environment whenever possible.
“We are pleased to be promoting new measures today, including the launch of our Mental Health Strategy, as we continue to build structures that will help promote a positive environment for athletes, coaches and support staff.”
EIS Director of Medical Services Dr Rod Jaques said: “For over a decade, we have had doctors who are consultants in sport and exercise medicine looking after our elite athletes. The doctors are trained to recognise mental health issues and are assisted by EIS sports psychologists and performance lifestyle advisers.
“The new Mental Health Strategy and the other measures we are promoting today demonstrate that our work in the area is consistently evolving and improving as we move forward.
“It is positive that mental health is being publicly talked about and I am confident that we are moving in the right direction which will ultimately benefit every athlete, coach and support staff member working in Olympic and Paralympic sport.”