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British athletes to get mental health support

British Athletics logo Photo: Aglet via Flickr

British Athletics logo Photo: Aglet via Flickr

Athletes will have access to mental health support at major international tournaments, thanks to a partnership between British Athletics and a team of national experts.

The governing body has announced a link-up with Cognacity to provide full-time confidential counselling for funded competitors on it's World Class Performance Programme, which will be extended to the entire squad at competitions like the IAAF World Championships and Olympic Games.

In revealing the news, British Athletics say the aim is to help "minimise some of the barriers that can prevent those from seeking help" such as the stigma of mental illness.

Olympic and Paralympic athletes are expected to have "24/7 access to a team of psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors", with Cognacity’s clinical team said to have experience in assessing conditions including anxiety, specific performance related issues, depression, addictions and eating disorders.

The company has advised British Airways, BP and accountancy firm PwC and had specialists at London 2012. It's website says it applies "medical and scientific expertise to help sporting organisations improve wellbeing athletes" to ensure they are fit for the future.

Consultant Psychiatrist and Managing Director Dr Phil Hopley says "these athletes are ordinary people doing extraordinary things, however, like all of us, they are prone to the impact of chronic stress on their mental health. This work is a vital aspect of helping athletes optimise their performance.”

British Athletics Performance Director Neil Black (below) says “we are delighted to be working in partnership with Cognacity to offer such an important service to athletes. Thanks to the partnership, help and support will always be available, and we would encourage athletes to utilise the expertise and guidance offered by Cognacity as and when they feel the need to.”

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