U.S Olympic and Paralympic Committee Introduce Mental Health Taskforce

A few days ago the the U.S Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) announced the establishment of a mental health taskforce to support Team USA athletes, coaches, administrators and officials who work with them. The role of the taskforce is to support members of Team with mental health concerns and promote holistic well-being and developing, throughout their athletic career.

The mental health taskforce is made up of 13 members and houses a range of background and professions including: previous U.S olympians, psychologists and professors. Collectively, their duties include designing and developing psychological practices, information resources and putting action plans in place to support mental health and mental performance of Team USA. The taskforce is set to meet monthly.

Another important role of the taskforce is to encourage and maintain an internal culture which, promotes the use of mental health service and psychological intervention. This begins by ensuring suitable systemic structures are solid, clear and in place to advance a progressive, open culture. Led by Dr. Finnoff and Bahati VanPelt, USOPC chief of athlete services, internal structures must reflect and innately nurture a desirable culture where, seeking mental health services and communication on the topic is welcoming and non-judgemental.

In relation to the recent global outbreak of Covid-19 and subsequent postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games, the USOPC have organised for mental health officers to initiate discussions on various mental health and wellness topics for athletes and staff. Additionally, the officers will collaborate with the internal and external USOPC groups in the development of mental health programs.

To come into immediate effect, is the use of the USOPC ComPsych programs, now available to all Team USA athletes, to assist athletes and their families with managing the impact of the global pandemic, The ComPsych program allows athletes 24/7 access to over the phone counselling with licensed mental health professionals, as well as access to resources on well-being support and legal and financial guidance.

As the world remains on lockdown, USOPC have adapted to the necessary social distancing guidelines and will continue to provide support and sessions via phone or conference call with athletes. Maintaining structure and offering support can be paramount at such an uncertain time.

Props to USOPC for creating a department who’s focus is on promoting the use of mental health services and changing the current perspective of mental health and psychology in sport performance

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