How TOP Partners Support Athlete Mental Health

On 10 October, World Mental Health Day, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) highlights how the support of Worldwide Olympic Partners (TOPs) goes far beyond simply staging the Olympic Games. They also help athletes deal with many unique challenges. challenges they encounter during their sporting careers.

One of those challenges is mental health. Indeed, in a survey launched by the IOC Athletes’ Commission in 2020, 32% of the 4,000 athletes and entourages who responded said that mental health was the biggest challenge they currently faced.

Here, we highlight how a variety of initiatives launched by TOP Partners support the mental health of athletes, and hear from those who have experienced the benefits firsthand.

Allianz shows athletes the power of ‘The Pause’

With his new “The break” campaignWorldwide Olympic Insurance Partner, Allianz enlisted a group of sports psychologists to explain the importance of mindfulness and lead the conversation on mental health.

“The goal of many athletes right now is to allow them to be human, to fail, to have negative emotions,” explained Mareike Dottschadis, sports psychologist and mental performance coach from Germany. “There is great value in pausing, stepping back and listening to what you need right now. And it is not necessary to advance all the time.

The resources were promoted to the IOC’s Athlete365 community and featured prominently at the Allianz Professional Conference for Athletes, held on September 28.

The Allianz Support Dog Squad, meanwhile, trained international skateboarders in Los Angeles for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and other international competitions with a group of over 50 trained emotional support dogs. The initiative was part of the company’s unconditional support program.

Skateboarders Leticia Bufoni (Brazil) and Dashawn Jordan (USA) were among those who benefited from the program, feeling the positive effects of reduced stress and the loneliness and self-awareness that came from companionship.

“I get so nervous before the competition,” Bufoni explained. “Going to the Olympics and representing Brazil…it’s a lot of pressure, you know? Talking about mental health is difficult. Going to my first Olympic Games, it’s difficult to explain the pressure I put on myself.

“When I have a dog, it all goes away. All the thoughts about the Olympics, the training, the sponsors, the medal – it all goes away. I felt so relaxed. I definitely don’t feel alone. This experience highlighted that I really need to work on my sanity. I realized that as long as my head is in place, everything else will work out.

Four-time Olympian Lindsey Vonn, avid dog owner and mental health advocate, has also partnered with Allianz as a Global Ambassador to shine a light on mental health and share her own experiences and advice with athletes to help them to boost their confidence.

“I know firsthand the challenges athletes face when it comes to preparing and training for one of the greatest moments of your life,” said Vonn, a gold medalist at the Games. Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. “I’ve also seen how uplifting and encouraging it can be to have a team behind you – whether it’s an emotional support animal, a family or of friends, or trained professionals – to help you build your confidence and create a positive mindset for times when you win or even come in short.

Finding Purpose with Airbnb Experiences for Olympians and Paralympians

In partnership with the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Airbnb launched the Airbnb Olympic and Paralympic Experiences to give athletes the opportunity to share their passion and connect with people around the world, in person and virtually.

Besides the financial rewards, some athletes have benefited mentally from seeing the positive impact they can have on others, as well as the opportunity to find meaning in their daily lives outside of sport.

“It’s very rewarding to see the positive impact the sessions can have,” said Latvian pole vaulter Pauls Pujats, who offers an introduction to yoga, nutrition and exercise at his home as part of from the program. “Giving value, helping and sharing is what matters, and it’s what people value the most.”

For retired Canadian triathlete Simon Whitfield, who won an Olympic gold and silver medal during his career, hosting his Airbnb Olympian & Paralympian Experience has given him a sense of fulfillment and helped adapt to the challenges of life without competitive sport.

“When I retired from professional sports, I pulled away from people because I had this internal competitive fire burning,” Whitfield explained. “I had to recalibrate my expectations, and being an Airbnb host helped me adjust to life after sports.”

Helping others with P&G

Global TOP Partner P&G has launched the Athletes for Good program ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to help athletes give back to the causes that matter most to them in areas such as equality and inclusion, impact on community and mental well-being. being.

Canadian Paralympian Tammy Cunnington asked P&G Athletes for Good to fund Fast and Female, a charity determined to fight gender inequality in sport and change the lives of the next generation of girls by keeping them healthy. healthy and active.

This initiative has given Cunnington a platform to open up about the struggles she has overcome and to support the mental health and well-being of others. Importantly, the funding will allow Cunnington and Fast and Female to increase their reach.

“I’ve been through a lot in my sporting career,” Cunnington revealed. “By sharing experiences, both positive and negative, I can show others the benefit of being involved in sport even when things are tough.”

Mentoring and Meditation via Intel

Worldwide Olympic Partner Intel has previously partnered with the IOC to offer specialist athlete support programs through Athlete365.

This included offering athletes mentorship to help them navigate their career transition – a topic that can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. The program paired participating athletes with an experienced professional working at Intel, providing them with exclusive, tailored support and engaging them in regular meetings and development opportunities to help them learn new skills, expand their professional networks and chart their career path.

“My mentor and I have connected once a month, and our conversations are so genuine,” said US para-athlete Tricia Downing. “I can be open and honest about what I’m going through or what I’m thinking, and she’ll point out an area that she thinks is bothering me and give me some solutions.”

Support also included opportunities to learn how to better manage stress and anxiety through Headspace – a meditation and sleep app used by 66 million people worldwide that’s proven to reduce stress and improve happiness. As part of the offer, participating athletes received six months free access to the highest Headspace subscription, including an extensive library with themed courses, a new meditation every day, sleep exercises and bedtime sounds, and a motion mode for physical and mental fitness.

“We all need a little more support, and that’s okay,” said British long-distance runner Kate Reed. “I am very grateful to Athlete365 and Headspace for helping us Olympians.”

For more information on the Worldwide Olympic Partners program, click here.

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