Experts say Paralympics Australia set “gold standard” in mental health care with Quarantine Support Program
MENTAL health has taken centre stage at this years’ Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics ––with Paralympics Australia helping to lead the charge in providing athletes with extensive mental health support.
At this year’s Olympics in Tokyo, high profile athletes such as US gymnast Simone Biles and Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka were vocal about their own personal mental health challenges. Paralympic athletes such as swimmer Anastasia Pagonis and javelin thrower Reinhardt Hamman also spoke up about the importance of addressing mental health issues. Dr. Cheri Blauwet, a member of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Medical Committee said the narrative of mental health is changing, and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
This year’s Paralympics saw a tangible response to mental health issues faced by athletes, with resources available for athletes during and after the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics such as the Mentally Fit Helpline which offers 24-hour confidential mental health and well-being support, staffed by expert counsellors who provided help, advice, and support in over 70 languages. In addition to the international support programs, Paralympics Australia implemented an extensive and contemporary quarantine support program for athletes which has been described as ‘gold standard” by mental health experts.
The Paralympians were in hotel quarantine in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, after participating in the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
The quarantine support program included clinical and psychological support, as well as a range of experiential therapies such as art therapy, mindfulness, comedy and more.
Psychologist Jane Enter (pictured below) has extensive experience in group and organisational mental health programs. Ms Enter is one of the Clinical Directors of Raindrum, which provided various modules of the program.
She said the quarantine program Paralympics Australia created was exceptional.
Raindrum Psychologist Tracey Gamble (pictured below) was also part of the quarantine support program.