This week we were privileged to be included in the Sporting Mind Conference hosted by British Athletics and BBC Get Inspired. The aim of the conference was to engage professionals working across sport in conversations to inspire positive progress in the area of mental health.
The event itself provided the opportunity to hear from a great line up of speakers who together emphasised a very real case for action. Through the delivery of information based on professional expertise, the evidence base, best practice recommendations and personal experience, meaningful reflection was enabled. We are very proud to have been part of this.
For us, the highlight was hearing from Olympic hockey gold medallist Helen Richardson-Walsh MBE and Great Britain & Northern Ireland international Pippa Woolven. Both provided incredible insight into the joys and challenges of being an athlete, and the vital importance of having in place strong, secure networks of support. The impact of their willingness to share their personal experiences and reflections so openly and honestly cannot be underestimated. Thank you.
From start to finish, the resounding message of the day was that proactive whole organisation approaches which embrace prevention, detection and early intervention are required. Whilst this is what drives Team Mental Health to do what we do, it was fantastic to hear our core beliefs and values echoed across the board.
At this event we focused on communicating that mental health is a state of wellbeing. Like physical health, we all have it and we all need to know how to look after and protect it. Action we take to support our physical health, including exercise, eating healthily, staying hydrated, sleeping well and seeking support from healthcare professionals when in need, apply to mental health equally. Finding a way to hold this in mind is important.
As with our physical health, there are times when our mental health will be better than others. When experiencing problems or illness it’s important for us to be able to recognise this and know there’s action we can take to support recovery.
How can we do this? Well, everyone is unique and what works for some won’t necessarily work for others. Taking some time to explore what you can do to assist you be your best can be really beneficial. For those looking for inspiration, there’s evidence to suggest that taking action in the following areas can improve wellbeing:
- Be active – Get outside, green space is good for us.
- Connect – Make time to spend time with family, friends, team mates and colleagues or take steps to meet people with shared ideas and values. Feeling a sense of belonging matters.
- Take notice – Be present and appreciate what’s around you. Special moments can be easy to miss.
- Keep learning – Set yourself new challenges or re-discover old interests and pleasures.
- Give – Expressing gratitude and kindness makes you, and others, feel good. 1
It’s also important to seek support. If you are experiencing difficulties seek advice and guidance from a health care professional to ensure you get the right support, in the right place, at the right time.
There’s no doubt that in order to embed cultures where physical and mental health are aligned, there are challenges to be overcome. However, we’re in a place where change is possible. It’s a time where we can recognise the positive impact good mental health can have on performance, and at the same time know that it’s okay to not be okay. If you’re in need of support let someone know.
In a world where sport, or indeed a career of any kind or life requirement, can be all consuming try to make time to consider or remember what else defines you. Enjoy finding old and new ways to develop and nurture your sense of self … and appreciate all that you are.
Alongside everyone who attended and supported the Sporting Mind Conference, we’d like to thank Jane Fylan, British Athletics Athlete Health & Wellbeing Chair, Donna Fraser, Equality, Diversity & Engagement Lead at UK Athletics and Sarah Broadhead, Director at Broadhead Performance, for providing us with the opportunity to work with them and be part of this important event. Most certainly a highlight of our careers to date!
More information about this event can be accessed here.
Dr Libby Artingstall Co-Founder & Director Team Mental Health
- Foresight Government Office for Statistics & The New Economics Foundation (2008). Five ways to wellbeing. Government Office for Science. Available here: