Cycling Canada is pushing back against the mental health stigma around cycling.
Research has shown high-level athletes struggle with mental health at higher rates than the general population. Thirty-nine per cent of competitive athletes suffer from anxiety disorders, 23 per cent have had depressive episodes and 17 per cent have substance abuse problems. Others have eating and personality disorders.
Cycling Canada has teamed up with Morneau Shepell, a Canadian human-resources consultancy company, to help fight the stigma around mental illness in sport. The two organizations are working toward educating their members on recognizing mental disorders in athletes. Morneau Shepell held a clinic for the employees with Cycling Canada to teach them how to notice and deal with mental health struggles in sport.
“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,” said Clara Hughes, a six-time Olympic medallist in cycling and speed skating. “Most important, this training will provide strategies for proper support.”
Cycling Canada CEO, Greg Mathieu, notes that when an athlete is injured there is support and medical staff available to help. When an athlete is struggling with depression, it is more difficult to notice and there usually is not help offered for those types of problems athletes encounter.
“[Few] of us in sport are in a position to identify where assistance can be found,” said Mathieu. “Through this program, we intend to acknowledge the need, provide support and enhance awareness.”