Government unveils mental health action plan to improve support for elite sportspeople

Government has today launched the first Mental Health Action Plan for Elite Sport. The Alliance has worked collaboratively with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Mind to create the action plan to improve awareness and training of mental health in top-level sport.

Coaches and support staff will be given extra training to spot the signs of poor mental health in athletes to reduce stigma and improve support for professional sportspeople.

A new mental health strategy will be implemented across all elite sports to promote good mental wellbeing and give national governing bodies better information about accessing sport and clinical psychologists.

The Action Plan has been developed after the Alliance attended two roundtables, hosted by Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Sport and Civil Society, to discuss how the sector can improve support for athletes and share best practice.

Supporting the Alliance’s mission to create a vibrant sport and recreation sector which is fit for the future the new Action Plan will also focus on embedding good mental health practise at a grassroots level. Sport England will ingrain mental wellbeing into its Talent Strategy and teach holistic athlete development, and mental health welfare alongside physical training.

By 2024, elite sport must have mental health procedures embedded in their performance plans, and provide clear pathways for athletes to help them access professional mental health support.

Commenting on the launch of the Action Plan, Emma Boggis, chief executive of the Sport Recreation Alliance, said: “I am very pleased to have worked together with the Sports Minister and Mind to develop this Action Plan which is committed to making a real change for elite sportspeople.

“We know that there is good practice in the sector through our work on the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation and working closely with our wider membership. But we also recognise that this needs to become common practice so that athletes and their support teams feel that their mental wellbeing is a priority.

“We believe that by working together we can collectively help to create a positive environment, with greater understanding and knowledge, that helps our athletes and the wider population to engage in sport and physical activity.”

The government will now establish a small group to oversee progress in delivering the plan and will report on progress as part of the Sporting Future annual report to Parliament.

Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said: “We know that sport has a very positive impact on people’s mental health and can help in their recovery. But when sport is your job, the immense pressure to succeed can become too much.

“This Action Plan sets out how Government, sports and mental health organisations can work together to give athletes the right support before they reach crisis point.

“Progress has been made to break down the stigma around mental health and this plan underlines our commitment to tackling this important issue in sport. It will help create a stronger industry where our elite sports men and women can continue to thrive and inspire future generations.”

The government announcement on the launch of the Action Plan is available here.