British Swimming and Mental Health

10 Oct 2018

In recognition of World Mental Health Day, the British Swimming Mental Health Working group wanted to take the opportunity to provide an update of the positive work being done across the organisation in this area.

The working group was set up to serve across the organisation, incorporating diving, para-swimming, swimming and the staffing group to provide an opportunity to work collaboratively in raising awareness of mental health.

The group seeks to improve knowledge about mental health and develop proactive strategies to support our athletes, coaches and staff. The first step towards this is developing an approach to share a common language when we talk about mental health. The group are developing the resources and structure to support achieving good mental health.

Para-Swimming has been developing a mental health strand to their Athlete Health & Wellbeing strategy. The key areas of focus have been looking at ways to develop knowledge in this area with athletes, coaches and staff, as well as working with EIS on having the right referral pathways in place to support anyone in relation to their mental health.

Swimming has been looking at the prevalence of mental illness within their population to develop a better understanding of what factors may predispose an athlete to suffer from mental illness. As part of their mental health strategy, they are keen to develop effective resources and ensuring that they are relevant to each transition an athlete will go through in their career.

Diving has started work on their mental health strategy using an athlete-focused approach and are keen to develop this further to include coaches and staff. They have been working with the other disciplines to develop effective referral pathways for the sport.

Staff from each discipline and across British Swimming have completed the Mental Health First Aid course, an initiative developed by Mental Health First Aid England. Their mission is to empower people to look after themselves and each other by improving understanding and raising awareness of mental health.

British Swimming developed and introduced an employee wellbeing policy in July 2018 to help manage its obligations to maintain the mental health and wellbeing of all staff. The policy covers the organisation's commitment to employee health, the responsibilities of managers and others for maintaining psychological health, health promotion initiatives, communicating and training on health issues, the range of support available for the maintenance of mental health, and the organisational commitment to handling individual issues.

During Mental Health week earlier this year, we provided employees with information and exercises to help address anxiety, stress, depression and general well-being. We have trialled an initiative where mini treatments were offered to employees within our Head Office in an attempt to alleviate stress whilst at work. 

For more information on mental health awareness click here