Designed to help young people manage their mental health and improve their general wellbeing, the Mental Fitness Program will see athletes assist in delivering mental wellbeing presentations, both in-person and online, at high schools throughout the country.
Nine athletes from the NSW Institute of Sport will take part in the initiative from the Australian Institute of Sport in collaboration with Black Dog Institute. The Mental Fitness Program is a unique offering that brings together two of the AIS’s existing programs – the Mental Fitness Presentation and the Bite Back Mental Fitness Challenge.
In Australia, it is estimated that 1 in 5 people will experience symptoms of mental illness in any given year, and approximately 60% of those people won’t seek help. Black Dog Institute research reveals over 75 percent of mental health issues develop before the age of 25 which shows the importance of tackling the subject from an early age.
AIS Director Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement Matti Clements said in these challenging times it is important young people have the skills to look after their mental wellbeing.
“Like adults, young people can face numerous challenges in the modern world and the impacts of COVID-19 on schooling and everyday life has added that extra layer of pressure,” said Clements.
“Now more than ever it is vital that young people are taught how to look after their mental wellbeing, and the AIS is thrilled to partner with a renowned research leader such as Black Dog Institute to deliver this critical program to high school students across Australia.”
Black Dog Institute Director and Chief Scientist Helen Christensen said the ability to bring sport and community together to teach meaningful life skills was needed now more than ever.
“We are absolutely delighted to partner with the AIS to deliver the Mental Fitness Program in Australian high schools, at a city, state and national level,” said Christensen.
“Young people are more likely to take up mental health and wellbeing training if these programs are delivered by a person with whom they can resonate. The earlier these programs are offered, the more likely the effects will be long lasting.”
Research conducted by the Black Dog Institute revealed that almost 80 per cent of people say their mental health was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with visitors to blackdoginstitute.org.au doubling as people sought techniques to cope with anxiety and stress.
For any schools interested in a free Black Dog Mental Fitness Presentation delivered by an elite athlete, you can submit an online request via the Black Dog Institute website – here.
The Mental Fitness Program is one of three community engagement initiatives offered to Australian athletes by the
AIS, alongside Lifeline Community Custodians and Share a Yarn.
For further information – visit www.ais.gov.au/community-engagement or www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/education-services/ais-mental-fitness-program/
Mental Fitness Program athlete presenters
- Alyce Wood, Paddle Australia
- Andrew Edmondson, Wheelchair Rugby (NSWIS)
- Belinda Maxworthy, Archery Australia (NSWIS)
- Cam Crombie, Athletics Australia
- Carlee Beattie, Athletics Australia
- Carly James, Hockey Australia
- Declan Stacey, Diving (NSWIS)
- Dylan Pietsch, Rugby Australia
- Georgie Rowe, Rowing Australia (NSWIS)
- Gordon Allan, Cycling Australia (NSWIS)
- Harry Garside, Boxing Australia
- Holly Takos, Cycling Australia
- Jaime Roberts, Paddle Australia
- Jennifer Tait, Volleyball Australia
- Jo Brigden-Jones, Paddle Australia (NSWIS)
- Joshua Thornton, Bowls Australia
- Kaye Scott, Boxing Australia (NSWIS)
- Kieran Woolley, Skate Australia (NSWIS)
- Liam Twomey, Triathlon Australia
- Matthew Denny, Athletics Australia
- Melissa Tapper, Table Tennis Australia
- Mitchell Gourley, Snow Australia
- Nicola Hammond, Hockey Australia
- Nikki Ayers, Rowing Australia
- Noemie Fox, Paddle Australia (NSWIS)
- Olivia Vivian, Gymnastics Australia
- Rachel Tallent, Athletics Australia