New IOC Mental Health Action Plan – Psychologically Safe EnvironmentsThe Mental Health Action Plan emphasizes the importance of athletes’ mental health needs being just as vital for their performance and well-being as their physical health needs, and that good mental health entails much more than the absence of a mental health symptom or illness.
The Mental Health Action Plan is a comprehensive strategy that will serve as a roadmap for the IOC to promote mental well-being across its four spheres of responsibility – the IOC as an organization, the IOC as the owner of the Olympic Games, the IOC as the leader of the Olympic Movement, and Olympism in society. It is guided by the principles of human rights, equity, evidence-based practice, and collaborative working.
New IOC Mental Health Action Plan
There are five theme focus areas with associated important targets and actions to be fulfilled by the end of 2026 throughout the four spheres:
- Culture and leadership
Leading the field by advocating for a policy environment that recognizes the importance of mental health and well-being.
- Research and measurement
Contributing to more detailed and trustworthy mental health epidemiology among elite athletes and under-researched groups, with an emphasis on cross-cultural differences – acknowledging that evidence-based approaches are crucial for successful programs.
3. Reduce the prevalence and enhance well-being
Included in this are the ongoing creation of expert-led specialized tools and programs to improve mental health literacy, eliminate stigma, build mental resilience, and reduce sport-specific stresses that impair mental health and well-being.
- Enhance care
Encourage the development of psychologically safe sports settings that remove obstacles to seeking help, including early detection of when additional support may be required and the establishment of care pathways.
5. Increase access to sports
Promoting and supporting the mental health advantages that people and communities gain from participating in sport and Olympism in Society, particularly in resource-limited contexts, as part of Olympism365.
The focus on elite athlete mental health began in 2019 with the issuance of the IOC Consensus Statement on mental health in elite athletes and the formation of the IOC Mental Health Working Group.
Recommendation 5 of the Olympic Agenda 2020+5 has called for enhanced mental health care for elite athletes and their entourages. Furthermore, Recommendation 10 looks beyond the Olympic Games, at how sport may be used to make the world a better, healthier place by contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This has contributed to a major rise in the number of resources available through Athlete365, such as the dedicated #MentallyFit section and the IOC Mental Health in Elite Athletes Toolkit. Such tools, in addition to the Certificate and Diploma in Mental Health in Elite Sport, are critical in assisting the Olympic Movement in providing leadership in this field and promoting awareness among National Olympic Committees and International Federations.
With the backing of Olympic Solidarity, the IOC intends to integrate expert-led support for athletes’ well-being across several IOC programs, working on complimentary subjects such as gender equality and safeguarding.