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Government unveils mental health action plan for elite sportspeople

21 March 2018

Coaches and support staff will be given extra training to spot the signs of poor mental health.

Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, today unveiled the first Mental Health Action Plan for Elite Sport, which has been developed with mental health and sports organisations to improve awareness and training in top-level sport.

Tracey Crouch said:

"We know that sport has a very positive impact on people’s mental health and can help in their recovery. But when sport is your job, the immense pressure to succeed can become too much.

This Action Plan sets out how Government, sports and mental health organisations can work together to give athletes the right support before they reach crisis point.

Progress has been made to break down the stigma around mental health and this plan underlines our commitment to tackling this important issue in sport. It will help create a stronger industry where our elite sports men and women can continue to thrive and inspire future generations."

A new mental health strategy will be implemented across all elite sports to promote good mental wellbeing and give athletes and National Governing Bodies better information about accessing sports and clinical psychologists.

By 2024, elite sport must have mental health procedures embedded in their performance plans, and provide clear pathways for athletes to help them access professional mental health support.

National Lottery Funded athletes will also be encouraged to visit mental health units to improve discussions and help break down the stigma around mental health.  Good mental health practise will also be embedded at a grassroots level as part of the plan.  Sport England will ingrain mental wellbeing into its Talent Strategy and teach holistic athlete development, and mental health welfare alongside physical training.

The Action Plan was developed after the Minister hosted two roundtables last year one with elite athletes from across British sport to hear firsthand the pressures they face and the other for sports and mental health organisations to discuss how the sector can improve support, and share best practice.

Dr Stewart Cotterill, Chair of The Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology, said:

"This announcement is a very important step forward in seeking to ensure better mental health in elite sport, as well as in sport at all levels.

Historically, there has been a lack of knowledge and understanding relating to mental health and wellbeing that has resulted in limited disclosure and calls for help from athletes. Increasing awareness in athletes, coaches, managers and support staff can help to create an environment in which all individuals can be helped to thrive psychologically. The outcome of which could then be even higher levels of performance as individuals become more mentally robust''



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