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IOC focuses on elite athlete mental health

July 13 2023 - News Release News Editorial

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has developed a new Mental Health Action Plan that will take a wider approach to supporting the protection and promotion of athlete mental wellbeing.

IOC focuses on elite athlete mental health

The Mental Health Action Plan has highlighted the importance of recognising that athletes’ mental health needs are just as important as physical health needs for performance. 

Key targets for 2026 have been put in place, guided by the principles of human rights, equity, evidence-based practice and working collaboratively. The plan will serve as a roadmap for the IOC to promote mental wellbeing across its four spheres of responsibility – the IOC as an organisation, the IOC as the owner of the Olympic Games, the IOC as the leader of the Olympic Movement, and Olympism in society.

Across the four spheres, there are five focus areas including culture and leadership, recognising the importance of mental health within policy; measurement and research, with a focus on mental health in elite athletes and under-researched groups; encompassing the continued development of expert-led tailored tools and initiatives to improve mental health literacy and reduce stigma; encouraging the building of psychologically safe athletic environments and improving access to sport in society, which can offer mental health benefits. 

The initial focus on elite athlete mental health started in 2019, with the publication of the IOC Consensus Statement on mental health in elite athletes and the introduction of the IOC Mental Health Working Group. 

Recommendation 5 of the Olympic Agenda 2020+5 also included calls for increased mental health support for elite athletes and their entourages. Increased resources have been released and made available through Athlete365, which includes the dedicated #MentallyFit section and the IOC Mental Health in Elite Athletes Toolkit. 

Image: Nicolas Hoizey on Unsplash

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