Mental health in Elite Athletes: International Olympic Committee Consensus Statement

In November 2018 the IOC held a consensus meeting in Lausanne to review the evidence of how to help elite athletes manage mental health issues. The aim was to analyse the best current evidence and to provide a consensus statement for clinical practice and interventions. For clarification elite athlete in this review was those competing at professional, Olympic or collegiate levels.

In essence those attending the meeting were asked to:

  • to review the literature describing prevalence, diagnosis and impact on athletic performance of mental health symptoms and disorders within elite athletes

  • to review the literature describing and establishing recommendations for non-pharmacological and pharmacological management of mental health symptoms and disorders in elite athletes

  • to provide recommendations on how to minimise negative impacts of the sport environment on mental health symptoms and disorders in elite athletes.

The consensus statement covers 20 topic areas which are all covered in high levels of detail. It is really encouraging to see that the IOC is taking its’ commitment to addressing the growing concerns of mental health in elite sport seriously. It seems that up until this point it has been down to individual athletes to talk about their battles with mental health disorders, hopefully now this will start to be a turning point. As ever the wheels turn slowly and it is likely going to be many years until the guidelines laid out in this statement are mainstream.

Mental Health in Sport – Coming Soon on Physioplus

Coming very soon to Physioplus will be a course specifically on mental health in sport which will go into the statement in more detail. For now take time and read the statement in preparation for you to consolidate your learning.