The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and Paralympics Australia have announced a significant partnership to support the next generation of Paralympic champions by providing access to world-leading mental health and wellbeing services.
Launching on International Day of People with Disability on 3rd December, the partnership will see the AIS Mental Health Referral Network (MHRN) become more accessible for emerging Paralympic pathway athletes.
The MHRN currently offers independent and confidential mental health and wellbeing support to more than 2,500 categorised athletes, as well as alumni athletes, coaches and support staff.
The service provides access to a team of dedicated experts who help connect those seeking support with one of 47 AIS-endorsed mental health practitioners.
The MHRN is the only high performance sport-specific mental health referral service available in the world, and AIS Director Matti Clements says it was pleasing to see the service continue to grow.
“Our ultimate aim is for every Australian athlete to be their very best in life as well as sport, and this partnership will ensure that more athletes will have access to the support they need, when they need it,” she says.
“We are excited to be working together with Paralympics Australia to make the Mental Health Referral Network accessible to more para-athletes, from those first joining a national program all the way through to our Tokyo medal hopefuls.”
Paralympics Australia Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lynne Anderson says the partnership will help para-athletes at every stage of their career.
“At a time of much uncertainty, securing access to this vital mental health referral service for all elite para-athletes, is a wonderful step towards ensuring an ongoing focus on the mental health and wellbeing of our athletes as they prepare for Tokyo 2020 (postponed until 2021 Ed.), Beijing 2022 and beyond,” she says.
Paralympic swimmer and Commonwealth Games gold medalist Jesse Aungles welcomes the partnership.
“People with a disability often have additional barriers or obstacles to overcome in their day to day life, but are also often some of the happiest people I know because they know how to overcome adversity,” he says.
“A common misconception is that asking for support is a sign of weakness. I think having the self-awareness to seek a little bit of extra help when you need it shows incredible strength of character.”
To find out more about the MHRN visit the AIS website.