It has been fantastic to see mental health being discussed so openly at these Olympic Games, a trend observed throughout this Olympiad.
Experiencing a range of emotions before, during and after the Games is completely normal, and a significant amount of work has been carried out in the lead up to these Games by Team GB, individual sports, and the wider high performance system to make sense of, support and manage these experiences in the most appropriate way. It is also possible that the increasing references to mental health may resurface thoughts of previous experiences of mental health challenges for some.
For both of these reasons it is important that athletes and staff are aware of the sources of support available to them, whether at the Games in Japan or at home in the UK.
These include (and are not limited to):
- Team GB sport medicine and psychology practitioners for athletes and staff on the ground in Tokyo
- Individual sports’ doctors, performance lifestyle and psychology practitioners based at home in the UK
- Access to mental health practitioners through the Athlete Medical Scheme for athletes (in Tokyo and in the UK) on World Class Programme (referral via Team GB, EIS or sport’s doctor)
- The BAC: During the Olympic and Paralympic Games the BAC have extended the independent, confidential support to all of its members (on a range of issues including mental health) and are providing a 24/7 support helpline for athletes in Tokyo
- Employee assistance programmes: UK Sport have widened access to their employee assistance line to all Olympic and Paralympic sports athletes and staff for the foreseeable future
- NHS GP and associated services for all athletes and staff
- Charitable organisations (e.g. Samaritans; SHOUT 85258; CALM; ChildLine, etc.)
- Other ‘third party’ tools: TELL; a Japanese service similar to the Samaritans; free, English-speaking text, chat and phone service in Japan - https://telljp.com/;