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Sunday, 25 October 2020


New mental health support service for sportspeople

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SWITCH the Play Foundation (StP), the UK’s only charity dedicated to supporting all sportspeople with athlete transition into life outside of sport, has launched a new mental health support service for sportspeople. Along with partners, StP will provide information, guidance and support specifically designed to help sportspeople build and maintain good mental health.

The service has launched at a time of reported heightened anxiety and increased uncertainties for many professional and semi-professional sportspeople due to the coronavirus crisis. With major events like the Olympics and Paralympics being postponed, seasons being abandoned and matches cancelled, there is wide acknowledgement across the sports sector that athletes are facing unprecedented challenges.

The StP Mental Health Support Service will offer help through:

  • A free and confidential emotional support phone line with qualified mental health first aiders and chartered psychologists
  • Access to mental health information and resources, including those from MHUK
  • A suite of mental health-related masterclasses, including two brand new ones focusing on mental health awareness, created in partnership with MHUK and DOCIAsport
  • Mental health first aid training

Leon Lloyd, CEO of Switch the Play, said:

“Mental health can impact anyone. When it comes to sportspeople, often there’s a misconception that being an athlete and the rewards that come with it, means life is good. But that’s not always the case, and the pandemic is compounding the issue. Since March, we’ve seen a rise in reports of sportspeople experiencing increased concerns about financial insecurity and anxiety over the future of their sporting career. The Professional Football Association reported a near 40 per cent increase in the number of players who sought their support compared to 2019, and an International Olympic Committee survey of athletes found 32 per cent of them said managing their mental health and managing their sporting careers was a challenge.

“Now more than ever before, help is needed. Partnering with Mental Health UK, we can support athletes with both the prevention and recovery from mental health difficulties. Whether you are an aspiring, current, or retired sportsperson, we have a team of qualified professionals who can guide you to the right tools and support, complementing the help you can access from your club and governing body. My message to any sportsperson feeling overwhelmed or worried right now is that you don’t have to go through this on your own. Contact us, your club or your governing body as we are all here to help you.”

Katie Legg, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Mental Health UK, added:

“Mental Health UK is delighted to partner with Switch The Play Foundation and be a part of their mission to support sportspeople transitioning to life outside sport through the delivery of bespoke advice, information and training to their staff and networks. Switch The Play Foundation has a track record of providing specialist support in this area of the sporting industry, and ensuring athletes can fulfil their potential at every stage of their lives. We’re incredibly excited about this collaboration which cements the role of mental health support as a cornerstone requirement of that transition period.”

To find out more about the Switch the Play Mental Health Support Service visit www.switchtheplay.com

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