The discussion around mental health is continuing to become ever more prominent, especially within elite sport. Paracanoe World silver medallist Laura Sugar shares some of the work which is being done by staff and athletes in the World Class Performance Programme in this area.
A number of the British Paracanoe team members have completed the ‘Mental Health Champions Training’, provided by the EIS, to help develop their knowledge and skills in this area. The key aims were to have both athletes and staff attend the training session to help benefit the squad as a whole going forward by keeping the conversation around mental health going and promoting positive discussions around it.
Laura said: “It was great to meet up over zoom as a team, especially at this testing time during the Covid pandemic and have fully interactive sessions with loads of feedback, role play and the opportunity to explore key talking points around mental health.
“As part of the sessions, we learnt how to approach the topic and how to help a fellow athlete or colleague to feel comfortable and open up, if they wish to, to help with their mental health.
“We all, athletes and staff, found the sessions hugely valuable and they helped to make us feel more confident to promote positive mental health in day-to-day life as well as in the training environment.
“We also realised the crossovers between our home lives and being in a tight knit training environment and explored how each affects one another on good days and on bad.
“Talking from my personal experience as an athlete, I found that even talking within the group, we had all shared similar experiences and now feel more confident approaching fellow teammates if I feel they are struggling.
“As a team we have pledged to continue to help promote positive mental health and also keep the discussion going, helping each other in tougher times.
“The impact of mental health on performance is huge and it can easily be overlooked.
“We feel very fortunate that we are enhancing our environment where we can strive to be the best and push the limits but also know that we have our team mates and staff to look out for us when we are struggling.
“We’d like to thank Sam, Andy and Sue for delivering great sessions and also providing ongoing support and reviews to help us progress as a squad further.”