Dr Mikel Mellick, a Psychologist from Cardiff Metropolitan University, is working with leaders within national sporting body Sport Wales to upskill staff on management of mental health issues in sport. Dr Mellick, a specialist in athlete mental health support at Cardiff Met, has begun the delivery of the internationally recognised and Welsh licensed mental health first aid training programme. The training started in November 2018 and will continue to roll out for performance staff across Sport Wales and Welsh national governing bodies over the next twelve months.
The two-day training course equips individuals working in performance sport with the skills to better support athletes, coaches and support staff through challenging times and help them to recognise, manage and support mental health problems amongst sports professionals.
The programme will be rolled out to Performance Directors, coaches,Science & medicine practitionersacross Welsh sport over a twelve-month period, with the intention of increasing mental health literacy amongst sporting leaders in Wales.
Senior Lecturer in Athlete Mental Health, Dr Mikel Mellick said: "We are very pleased to be working in partnership with Sport Wales to deliver mental health training to sports leadersin Wales . It is vitally important that we increase understanding of mental health issues in performance sport and support professionals within the industry to more confidently help individuals in distress and signpost them to appropriate support services.
"Professional sports men and women experience a unique set of pressures - from the pressure of striving for success to performance setbacks and injury, to facing media scrutiny and preparing for retirement. By helping coaches, performance directors and support staff to better understand the triggers and recognise the early signs of these pressures, we are beginning the process of building a stronger and earlier support network around our athletes".
"Leaders and coaches working within performancesport require an understanding of mental health welfare recognising that all in sport across whatever role are vulnerable to periods of mental health difficulty. We have received some excellent feedback from participants who have already completed the programme with many reporting how their increased mental health awareness and understanding has led to earlier support and signposting."
Felicity Hares, Strategic Workforce Development lead at Sport Wales said: "Mental health first aid is parallel to physical first aid and society is beginning to recognise this. Collaborating with local stakeholders like Cardiff Metropolitan University to highlight the importance of promoting positive mental health in sport is a key priority for us".
"We encourage all professionals working within the sports industry to take a long term and holistic approach to developing athletes and often a change of approach is required to enable this and create environments where the person is considered first. This training programme is of great value to our staff and the wider sporting community and we look forward to working in collaboration with mental health experts at Cardiff Met on future initiatives.
Professor Leigh Robinson, Pro Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean for the Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences at Cardiff Met and Sport Wales Board Member said "This is a great example of a collaborative approach to better ensuring the health and wellbeing of those involved in Welsh sport. Engaging with external partners such as Sport Wales in order to make a difference to wellbeing in lives and communities throughout Wales is a strategic priority for both Cardiff Met and Sport Wales".
To read this story in Welsh, click here.