Sporting heroes endorse positive mental health programme

Sporting heroes endorse positive mental health programme

Published on Tuesday, 04 November 2014

Posted in News

Sport NI, in conjunction with Aware Defeat Depression, has launched a Mental Health and Wellbeing pilot programme, operating until April 2015, which will target all aspects of positive mental health through sport from Grassroots to Developmental and High Performance level.

The new programme will help Sporting Clubs and Governing Bodies build a Mental Health support structure and education programme.

Sport NI 5 Tony Adams with AndreaBuilding on the success of the Sport Northern Ireland Mental Health Awareness initiative delivered in partnership with the Public Health Agency, work is now underway to deliver programmes that will have a direct impact on the coaching and playing population of sports clubs, right through from the Playground to the Podium.

Sport Northern Ireland have also brought in partners Sporting Chance, brainchild of former Arsenal and England Captain Tony Adams MBE (pictured above with Oisin McConville, Neil Doak and Antionette McKeown from Sport NI) and Aware Defeat Depression, a charity which works exclusively for those with depression in Northern Ireland. Both Tony Adams and former Armagh GAA player Oisin McConville are helping to launch the new programme, lending their support to this important area of work. The programme will be piloted in seven key sports.

Speaking at the event, Sport Northern Ireland Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown echoed the words of Tony Adams when she said: “To build Mental Health Resiliance in the sporting community is an essential building block, but when a time comes that an individual asks for help, they need to receive this as quickly as possibly.
The area of Mental Health and Wellbeing is extremely important and sport is a vital component in building resilience, both personally as well as within the club setting. Our programme aims to build mental reilience in our athletes and provide support when it is needed.”

Tony Adams MBE (above left, with Aware Defeat Depression Education and Training Manager Andrea Kearns) added his support to the programme saying: “We are delighted to be working with Sport Northern Ireland. For over fourteen years, we have been developing services to meet the needs of athletes' emotional welfare. In this time our services have evolved, I believe, to be recognised as unique and probably the best in the world for dealing with certain issues. This said, my original purpose still holds good, that when a sportsman or woman asks for support, someone responds. It is a great pleasure to work with people that share this vision.”

Reinforcing the importance of this area of work, Oisin McConville added: “I didn’t have to think twice about getting involved and as a Sport NI Sporting Ambassador I was keen to lend my support to this programme. The importance of addressing mental health issues in sport, and providing clubs and individuals with the knowledge and skills to identify and deal with issues cannot be underestimated. In sport it’s about coaching the whole person not just the player, and this programme addresses this head on.”

How to Get Involved

Through the course of this pilot programme it would be expected to have delivered this initiative in five Regions throughout Northern Ireland.
First region identified is East Down (Downpatrick) which is happening in November and December 2014. There will be four further regional programmes identified for delivery in January – March 2015.
If you are a club or governing body that wants help in developing structure and training around Mental Health and want to engage in this programme then please register your interest by emailing with your contact details, club name and sport.