Skip to main content

What is the Mental Health Referral Programme?

EIS | 17 October 2017

Today is World Mental Health Day 2017 and the theme is workplace wellbeing.

The EIS is known as “the team behind the team” and helps athletes to improve performance through the delivery of science, medicine, technology and engineering.

Providing support for athletes away from the track, field or their chosen sport is crucial and delivering services which preserve mental health and wellbeing is a key part of this.

Central to this is the Mental Health Referral Programme (MHRP), which was established by the EIS in 2014 and provides specialist primary and secondary care services to elite athletes that are struggling with a wide range of mental health issues including depression, stress, anxiety, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders and addictions.

Gold medal winning hockey player Helen Richardson-Walsh is one well-known athlete that has benefited from the MHRP. To read more about Helen’s experience and see her talking about the programme in a video interview click here.

Recognising some of the early signs of mental health illness is crucial and as part of its commitment to addressing mental health issues the EIS has provided training for many of its front line staff in identifying the early signs.

Dr Rod Jaques, Director of Medical Services at the EIS, explains: “At the EIS we see athletes on a face-to-face basis for 4,000 hours every week so there’s great opportunities to pick up mental health problems at an early stage.

“For some disciplines, in particular performance lifestyle, psychology and nutrition, we have given our staff additional training around mental health first aid and that has been welcomed.

“What’s really important in the high performance system is to create a culture which has honesty, respect and transparency for athletes, professional staff, coaches and sport administrators, that mitigates against developing those negative symptoms in mental health.”