London Wasps and Mind are to team up

The Premiership rugby union club London Waps and the mental health chairty Mind have announced that they are to work in partnership.

This partnership, which will run for two-years, will involve Wasps displaying Mind’s logo on their shirts as well as supporting the charity’s fundraising activities. 

Mind will help Wasps to support the psychological wellbeing of their players, by holding mental health training courses for their coaching staff and playing squad. This work also ties in with the work the RPA is doing to promote its mental health support service for all players.

Speaking about the partnership, London Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young said:

“In a high pressure environment such as professional rugby, positive mental health plays an important role in the lives of players and coaches. We’re very pleased to be part of this charity partnership which will allow us to raise awareness of a crucial issue.”

The partnership was announced as Mind released the results from a survey on attitudes to sport and mental health involving 2000 members of the public. The charity found that 56 per cent of respondents thought that hearing a professional sportsman or woman speaking about their mental health problem made them realise that successful people can have mental health problems too. The same percentage thought it was good that they were being open and honest.

Over a third (37 per cent) thought that the pressure of being in the spotlight put athletes at increased risk of developing mental health problems, with younger people more likely to think this was the case.

When asked about the effects on a sportsperson of having a mental health problem, nearly half the respondents said that they would be likely to perform worse on the field (48 per cent), while 45 per cent thought they would be unable to train properly and 40 per cent thought it would negatively affect team morale.

If a sporting figure has a mental health problem, 52 per cent think their family should be told and 48 per cent their manager should be informed. Only 5 per cent think fans should be told and just 2 per cent think the media have a right to know.  

Dr Adam Nicholls, a Chartered Psychologist from the University of Hull, comments:

"People may perceive elite athletes, due to athletic physiques and muscularity, as being immune from mental health issues. However, when elite sports people disclose their mental health issues, it demonstrates that all people regardless of their occupation, fitness level, and status are susceptible to suffering from mental health problems.

"Given that many elite athletes are role models for many people, the findings from Mind suggest that elite athletes disclosing their mental health problems may reduce the stigma associated with seeking health, which can only be positive for encouraging people to seek help.

"Interestingly, it appears that a significant number of people from the general public perceive that athletes will not be able to perform as well, when they are suffering mental health problems. This conveys a lack of understanding regarding mental health problems, and illustrates why more information is required to help people understand mental health problems.

"In some circumstances, performance may suffer, but sport may actually be the time in which athletes with mental health problems feel at their best. This is evident in the many athletes who have publicly announced their mental health problems, but were able to perform at the very highest level for many years. Research is required to explore the relationship between mental health illness and performance among athletes to examine the relationship and also the influence of participating in sport on mental health."