December 10, 2023

New IOC Mental Health Action Plan to further focus on well−being of athletes and promoting psychologically safe environments

International Olympic Committee

3 Jul 2023 – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has developed a new Mental Health Action Plan that takes a wider approach to supporting the protection and promotion of athlete mental well-being.

There is no health without good mental health 

The Mental Health Action Plan emphasises the importance of recognising that athletes’ mental health needs are as important for their performance and well-being as their physical health needs, and that good mental health means much more than the absence of a mental health symptom or disorder.

Key targets for 2026

Guided by the principles of human rights, equity, evidence-based practice and working collaboratively, 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 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 thematic focus areas, with corresponding key objectives and actions, to be achieved by the end of 2026:

1. Culture and leadership

Demonstrating leadership in the field by championing a policy environment that recognises the importance of mental health and well-being.

2. Measurement and research

Contributing towards more thorough and reliable mental health epidemiology in elite athletes and under-researched groups, with attention to cross-cultural differences – recognising that evidence-based approaches are critical for impactful initiatives.

3. Reduce prevalence and improve well-being

Encompassing the continued development of expert-led tailored tools and initiatives to improve mental health literacy, reduce stigma, build mental resilience and reduce sport-specific stressors that impact mental health and well-being.

4. Improve care

Encouraging the fostering of psychologically safe athletic environments which reduce the barriers to help seeking, including through supporting early recognition of when further support may be needed, and establishing pathways to care.

5. Improve access to sport

Promoting and supporting the mental health benefits that people and communities experience through accessing sport and Olympism in Society, especially in resource-limited settings, contributing to Olympism365.

Discover the Mental Health Action Plan

Athletes’ well-being remains a top priority for the IOC

The focus on the protection and promotion of elite athlete mental health commenced in 2019 with the publication of the IOC Consensus Statement on mental health in elite athletes and the set-up of the IOC Mental Health Working Group.

More recently, Recommendation 5 of Olympic Agenda 2020+5 calls for increased mental health support for elite athletes and their entourages. Additionally, Recommendation 10 looks beyond the Olympic Games, at the use of sport to create a better, healthier world by contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This has helped to significantly increase the resources available through Athlete365, including the dedicated #MentallyFit section and the IOC Mental Health in Elite Athletes Toolkit. Such resources, in addition to the Certificate and Diploma in Mental Health in Elite Sport, remain vitally important in helping provide leadership to the Olympic Movement in this area and in raising awareness among National Olympic Committees and International Federations.

The Mental Health Action Plan signals the IOC’s intent to integrate expert-led support for athletes’ well-being across multiple IOC programmes, working on complementary topics such as gender equality and safeguarding, with the support of Olympic Solidarity.

The plan also draws on the principles of Olympism365, the IOC’s strategy aimed at strengthening the role of sport as an enabler of the UN SDGs, with particular emphasis on encouraging even more partnerships with organisations around the world that aim to bring individuals and communities together to experience the immense mental benefits of physical activity and sport.

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