Mental Health Action Plan Improves Elite Athlete Support

A new mental health action plan was recently unveiled by the UK Government, its aim is to improve the support available to elite sportsmen and women. Due to the new action plan both support staff and coaches will receive additional training to identify the signs of mental health problems in athletes.The new mental health strategy will improve awareness as well as promote the mental wellbeing of athletes while at the same time provide the National Governing Bodies with the information needed to properly access clinical and sports psychologists. Elite sports must by 2024 implement the mental health procedures as part of its performance plans as well as offer all athlete’s clear pathways to access the assistance they need via professional mental health support.

Athletes funded by the National Lottery will also be encouraged to make use of the action plan by visiting mental health units to help break down and improve the stigma around mental health. Part of the plan is also to embed good mental health practice at the grassroots level. Should Sports England succeed with ingraining mental wellbeing via a strategy that includes teaching mental health welfare alongside athlete physical training it could change sports around the globe?

Could Mental Health Action Have Impact Worldwide

Developed by the Minister who also hosted roundtable a year ago, one with the elite athletes across all aspects of British sport and the other with mental health organisations, the conclusion was that an action plan could improve the support available to elite sports stars.

Civil Society and Sports Minister, Tracy Crouch shared that sport has a positive impact on individuals mental health, it is when a sport is your main income and thousands of fans depend on your performance, the enormous pressure athletes are under to succeed, can become too much. The action plan sees mental health and sports organisations work closely together to provide athletes with the correct support well in advance and before the situation reach crisis point.

First Ever Mental Health Action Plan for Elite Sports Professionals

The Chief Executive of Mind, Paul Farmer feels that the mental health action plan is an important step in ensuring that elite athlete can easily access support and help for their mental health, clear objectives are set in the plan. He also shared his delight that both Civil Society and the Minister of Sport is actively involved in the action plan. In the UK, and probably worldwide, one in four are affected by a mental health problem and professional sportswoman and men are no different. There has been an increase in sportspeople coming forward to reveal mental problems such as anxiety and depression, which confirmed the urgent need for an action plan. Still, no one knows how many athletes are still struggling in silence even though more and more are speaking out and asking for help regarding their mental health problems. The first step is to offer elite athletes a safe-haven to discuss any symptoms at an early as possible stage, to then enjoy the care and attention needed and to get the situation under control.