December 13, 2013 (Toronto, ON) – Morneau Shepell and Cycling Canada are working together to remove the stigma around mental health and provide effective solutions for a mental health strategy in the competitive sport community.
Recognizing the critical importance of mental health support in high-performance athletics, the two organizations paired up to bring awareness to the issue and have completed practical training to the Cycling Canada staff through Morneau Shepell’s Mental Health in the Workplace program.
Clara Hughes, six-time Olympic medalist in cycling and speed skating and guest analyst with CBC/Radio-Canada’s broadcast team for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, commends the program saying, “Mental health training is a key element that will allow the support staff of the national team to recognize clearly when an athlete is struggling. Most importantly, this training will provide strategies for proper support. Not only is Cycling Canada leading the way for sport in the country, but they are also providing the foundation of a healthy workplace for athletes, coaches and national team staff. This can only lead to success on and off the playing field.”
Recent research has shown that the prevalence of mental health issues among athletes tends to be as high, if not higher than the rest of the population.1 According to a 2010 report, psychiatric diagnosis of elite athletes, anxiety disorders are most prevalent at 39 per cent, followed by major depressive episodes at 23 per cent, substance abuse disorders at 17 per cent, eating disorders at 6 per cent and personality disorders at 3 per cent. The stigma behind mental disorders is often attributed to athletes being perceived as “emotionally very strong people,” leaving many athletes to be overlooked in discussions about mental health.2
In November 2013, Morneau Shepell conducted a full-day customized training session for Cycling Canada’s leadership team. In the course, participants learned observable warning signs of major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, adjustment disorder, eating disorders and addiction. They also learned about the effects of the stigma relating to these issues, an introduction to effective management practices, strategies for promoting good mental health, the importance of resiliency and finally, were provided with resources for support – whether for staff, colleagues or themselves.
“We’re very proud to partner with Cycling Canada in the effort to increase awareness and spearhead mental health initiatives in the sports industry,” said Alan Torrie, President and Chief Executive Officer, Morneau Shepell. “The staff and athletes that participated in the training session responded in a highly positive way. We look forward to building a long-term relationship with Cycling Canada.”
Greg Mathieu, CEO of Cycling Canada believes the collaboration acknowledges the need to provide support to athletes and staff. “When an athlete is physically injured, it is manifested in a way that we can see and relate to on a personal level. However, when a person is suffering from depression or other mental health struggles, it is not obvious and few of us in sport are in a position to identify where assistance can be found,” Mathieu said. “Through this program, we intend to acknowledge the need, provide support and enhance awareness.”
About Morneau Shepell’s Workplace Mental Health Services and Expertise
Morneau Shepell has been a leader in workplace mental health for over 30 years developing fulsome, innovative strategies and solutions that help management teams improve the productivity and performance of their organizations by creating psychologically healthy workplaces for their people. With mental health being the single most significant driver of disability absence cost, Morneau Shepell offers best-in-class Disability Management Solutions and is currently helping leading organizations implement the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s new National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, introduced in 2013. Morneau Shepell is the Canadian or global first to market within a number of areas including, a Global Domestic Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a Global Expatriate EAP, Mental Health in the Workplace Training for Managers, Return-to-Work Facilitation and Workplace Harassment Solutions, among many others. Morneau Shepell offers end-to-end support to organizations in addressing the multi-faceted issue of workplace mental health.