The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust is delivering mental health awareness training to the athletes who act as mentors on its programmes for young people.
The Trust is one of 11 organisations that have signed up to the #21by21 campaign which aims to encourage 21,000 coaches to become trained in mental health awareness by the year 2021. The campaign is being overseen by the Sport for Development Coalition.
Statistics suggest that need for mental health awareness amongst young people is greater than ever. Recent figures from the Prince’s Trust Youth Index stated 65% of young people say they often or always feel stressed and 30% of young people who are not in education, employment or training felt life was not worth living.
The Trust uses world-class athletes as mentors to young people aged 11 to 25 from disadvantaged backgrounds, to help them build resilience, confidence and self-esteem.
In August 2018, the Trust’s president Dame Kelly Holmes – who has herself spoken about experiencing poor mental health in the past – completed her training. And earlier this year athlete manager Adam Whitehead underwent his Mental Health First Aid Youth Practitioner training, which will enable him to train the Trust’s community of 50 athletes who work on a variety of programmes for young people.
Adam explained: “Everybody has mental health, and it is a continuum, at times people can experience poor mental health.
“Allowing people to be honest and open about their mental health can help to catch it early, allowing them to access support and greatly improve their chances of recovery.
“It’s important to bear that in mind when working with young people and athletes, just because someone might be high performing and appear to be functioning well, they might still be experiencing poor mental health.”
He added: “The mental health of the athletes we work with is so important as well. Obviously for looking after young people but also for the athletes themselves, it helps them to become more aware for themselves and also potentially other athletes they know as peers who may be transitioning to a life after sport and this training can help them spot signs and offer support.”
Over the next two years, the Trust will recruit a further 50 athletes who are transitioning to a life beyond sport. As part of their ongoing training programme, all these athletes will be trained as Mental Health First Aiders, improving the quality of the Trust’s transformational mentoring programmes for young people across the UK.
To find out more about the #21by21 campaign and access training resources, click here.