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MindWise has some exciting news: we're teaming up with sporting organisations including Ulster Hockey to give young athletes aged 14-18 across Northern Ireland the skills they need to help build resilience, maintain good mental health and better overcome challenges in their lives.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on young people, in particular those with a passion for sport, as the closure of schools and sports clubs has meant they’ve been unable to train or play at any level. In 2019, it was reported that one in 10 school children in Northern Ireland has a diagnosable mental illness, according to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). We know that since the pandemic began, the added stress of being isolated from friends, the pressure of learning from home and fewer opportunities to be physically active may have made these mental health difficulties even worse.
MindWise has worked with its charity partner, Mental Health UK, to develop a unique 6-session training programme called Your Resilience which will help young athletes to look after their own mental health. This course is currently being delivered in schools. Now hockey clubs throughout Northern Ireland will have the opportunity to work with our trained coaches to build their understanding of mental health issues and gain the expertise they need to support the young people they work with, free of charge.
Tara Collins, Your Resilience Co-ordinator at MindWise, explains, “Your Resilience is essential to support young sports players who may be under pressure as they strive to reach the top of their sporting ambitions, as well as perform well in school, balance their social lives and perhaps work part-time to subsidise the costs of their sporting career. Young people who benefit from Your Resilience will have resilience tools and a better understanding of mental health in themselves and in others. They’ll be able to use these tools and knowledge to maintain good mental health for the rest of their lives.
“At MindWise we know there is a growing need for support for young people, with most long-term mental health problems beginning in adolescence. At every club and in every community we need to be prioritizing young people’s mental health.”
This unique programme is being supported by Naked Hockey and three Naked Hockey athletes, Katie Mullan, Shirley McCay and Paul Gleghorne, who recognise the importance of supporting young players striving to be top of their game.
It is hoped that Your Resilience will help prevent future mental health problems, such as those experienced by Paul Gleghorne, Olympic hockey player who won 238 caps for the Ireland senior men’s team. Paul has been very open about his struggles with his mental health from a young age which continued throughout his hockey career. Paul recognizes that everyone’s experience with mental health is different but is a firm believer in seeking support both from professionals and from friends and family.
“When I first experienced what I now know as mental illness, I was young and struggled to process my feelings," says Paul. "I didn’t know if they were just part of life or something more serious. By the time I realised that these thoughts and feelings were serious, I was too scared to speak to anyone and ask for help. I didn't know of other people with a similar condition and had a fear of what others would think of me, but when I finally opened up, none of my fears came true and I was overwhelmed with support. I can assure anyone who is struggling with mental illness that you're not alone and seeking help will be beneficial to your mental health.”
Your Resilience equips young people with the tools and knowledge to maintain their mental health throughout life’s transitions – such as moving through school, pursuing their sporting passion, changing friendship groups, moving to university and starting employment. Our training programmes help young people to gain a better understanding of mental health in themselves and in others. They provide a suite of tools young people can use to look after their own mental health now and in the future. Your Resilience helps older teenagers to be more resilient and better prepared to cope with life transitions that could affect their mental health.
Marc Scott, Executive Manager of Ulster Hockey, comments, “Ulster Hockey is delighted to work in partnership with MindWise to jointly raise awareness of mental health issues and help our younger members develop resilience and wellbeing skills. The impact of the COVID situation and restrictions on the everyday lives of our members brings into focus the need to consider the wellbeing and resilience of our members and we hope that this project will make a significant and positive impact in this regard.”
If your sporting organisation would be interested in developing and delivering Your Resilience to young athletes aged 14-18 years old, please contact Tara Collins, Your Resilience Co-ordinator at MindWise on 07736 969481 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.