Supporting Team GB athletes at Olympic Games
A NHS psychiatrist will be on hand to help Team GB athletes during this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
Alan Currie, who works for Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), will be among a team of clinicians providing mental health support.
He was selected as a result of his work with the mental health panel of the English Institute of Sport and has been involved in developing Team GB’s mental health strategy for the Olympics.
He and two other mental health clinicians will be on call on the days leading up to the Games, during the competition, and in the days afterwards.
Alan said “There are a number of things we have to prepare for in the lead-up to the Games.
“There may be athletes who have had mental health problems in the past, so we need to help teams plan and accommodate for that.
"Someone with an existing problem may have a relapse and they’re away from their usual support network, whilst other people might experience a mental health problem for the first time.”
Alan will be there to support teams de-escalate a mental health crisis, provide a debrief when they come home and assess whether an athlete will need to continue with some form of treatment.
The Olympics is already an extremely high-pressure environment and due to the pandemic, there will be additional stresses for athletes and support teams in Tokyo – including being in isolation and unable to mix with teammates to share successess or failures.
Alan added: “There’s also the possibility of testing positive for Coronavirus. An athlete might qualify for a final and then have a positive test and is unable to compete.
"We will need to deal with the emotional fallout of that and that a potentially once-in-a-lifetime chance is gone.”
Alan says he is looking forward to the challenge.
“It will be hard work but very rewarding," he said.
"It’s a real privilege to work with athletes who are high-achieving, high-performing individuals who have dedicated a lot.
"It’s an honour to support them in some way, however indirect it might be.”
Alan has worked as a mental health consultant for over 20 years and has always had an interest in mental health and elite sport.