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Natalie Cook to discuss the role of mental health in athlete performance at SportAccord Summit

Natalie Cook to discuss the role of mental health in athlete performance at SportAccord Summit
March 21, 2019

World Sport & Business Summit, SportAccord has announced that Natalie Cook, five times Olympian and Gold Medallist representing Australia in Beach Volleyball, will take part in this year’s HealthAccord  ‘Fireside Chat’ discussing issues on athlete mental health.

In implementing interventions to improve athlete health and performance, sport organisations often overlook the athlete’s mental health. Any coach and athlete will agree, that if the athlete is not well mentally, their performance outcomes will suffer.

Championing the cause for athlete mental health, Cook will discuss the importance of raising the visibility on a subject that touches the lives of so many, and share insights from her experiences.

“HealthAccord highlights the importance of mental health as a growing concern for our athletes during and post competitive years. It appears no one is immune and it is becoming more and more common to talk about it.

“In my early days as an athlete it was called mental toughness. Toughen up was the call! Now there are more and more calls to address mental health and support overall mental well-being.

“The athlete entourage can play an enormous role in this area but the athlete has to be willing to share, open up and be vulnerable. For an athlete to have a long career on and off the field, there are many factors at play. However, most of all, their sense of purpose, self-value/love and happiness are all so important.

“Let’s continue to shine the spotlight on the subject and hopefully it helps the athlete ecosystem find ways to make the mental health space - a safe and happy space.”

Following her Fireside Chat, Cook will join the mental health panel session and speak about the athlete’s perspective on the importance of a healthy ‘mental game’. Joining Cook, panel experts will include Kathy Martin, Senior Director, Athlete Assistance, Women’s Tennis Association; Graziella Thake, Chief Executive and Co-Founder, Optimisation Hub; Gearoid Towney, Founder & Director, Crossing the Line (CTL); and Dr Margo Mountjoy, FINA Sport Medicine (and HealthAccord Co-Chair). 

The panel will examine innovations, diagnosis and treatment, the links between mental health and activity levels, and the effects on performance and quality of life. They will also share practical tools and takeaways to help international federations tackle issues and break down barriers to treatment.

HealthAccord sessions will also cover: short-mid-long-term monitoring of athlete injuries; supplements and their effect on elite and recreational athletes; and the pros and cons of wearable sensors for athletes, international federations and manufacturers.

Commenting on the strong and topical conference programme for this year’s HealthAccord, Co-Chair Prof. Fabio Pigozzi, President, FIMS (International Federation of Sports Medicine) and Member of the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission – Medical and Scientific Group said: “Despite the well-known beneficial effects of exercise on mental illness, also athletes could be susceptible to mental health problems, during and post competitive years, although possibly at a lower prevalence than the general population.

“The good news is that mental illness could be more effectively treated if diagnosed early enough, and talking about it at every opportunity can make all the difference. There is a need, however, to develop athlete specific diagnostic tools and tailored treatments”.

SportAccord is the leading annual global gathering for sporting leaders involved in the business of sport and is set to take place from 5th to 10th May 2019 on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Click here for information on the 2019 SportAccord World Sport and Business Summit in the Australasian Leisure Management industry Calendar.

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