Mental health for elite athletes and newcomers

Submitted by carina.willeke on Wed, 08/10/2022 - 15:03

Since 2003 my wife Jacqueline (Olympic & World Championships Finalist in Springboard Diving) and I (Snowboard Pro ISF World Tour) have been able to invest as International Sports Chaplains in trusting relationships with athletes and coaches from all over the world.

Topics such as depression, burn out, suicidal thoughts & suicide attempts, eating disorder, doping and other dishonest attempts to gain advantages, serious family problems and problems in the team, strokes of fate, mental problems after defeats, injuries but also after the greatest successes, abuse and simply the search for calmness or simply having a word with a person of trust in private are just a few of the topics we encounter.

These topics are usually not addressed with the trainer or in the team but with a person of trust outside of the team who speaks their language. I can say that we were able to build this trust with so many international athletes and teams and, as an outsider, we were able to build important bridges through good contacts within the teams and with the responsible team doctors with the consent of the athletes. 

As non-denominational Sports Chaplains, we care about the person behind the athlete and started in 2021 to invest also into newcomer’s at elite sports schools to prepare them for their future. We strive for the well-being of the athletes and enjoy great trust.
The sports psychologist and sports mental- trainer is just as important. In most cases, however, they are also required within the team to improve the athlete's performance. We, on the other hand, offer a so-called "Performance Free Zone" for the athletes.