UK Athletics appoints Priory Healthcare for mental health services

UK Athletics has appointed Priory Healthcare to offer support to athletes outside the World Class Programme (WCP) and across the wider sport.

The appointment was made following a recent review of mental health services and support available to athletes who represent GB & NI as well as Athletics Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. It recognised that many athletes who compete at the highest level but are not supported on the WCP experience the same stresses and demands in relation to training, competition, as well as balancing these requirements alongside employment and financial living cost responsibilities

The renewed relationship with Priory Healthcare will provide non programme athletes with a clear self-referral signposting system to promptly access a nationwide network of expertise via the Priory’s Wellbeing Centres and Hospitals.

UKA and England Athletics’ Duty of Care lead Jane Fylan said:

“We are delighted to be able to confirm this arrangement with Priory Healthcare which will support many athletes who perform at the highest level but aren’t necessarily in receipt of WCP funding or support.

“We’ve worked closely with the performance team at British Athletics to identify the wider requirements. Athletics is a big sport and the numbers representing both GB & NI and the home nations across the year are significant. We’re pleased to now be able to offer quality mental health support in this way to a wider group of athletes.

“We do advocate strongly that individuals should seek referral via their GP in the first instance, however with the ever-growing demands on GPs and the NHS as a whole we also understand the need for those seeking to access a private referral system both promptly and confidentially.”

Priory Healthcare’s Chief Operating Officer, Gair Stott, said:

“We are proud to partner with UK Athletics, which is committed to a culture that supports and empowers individuals to talk about their mental health. Our nationwide network of hospitals and Wellbeing Centres offers high-quality treatment, by top specialists in their field, and we have a long track record of supporting sportsmen and women.

“The visibility of today’s athletes can exacerbate the pressures they are under, professionally and personally. Some people assume that mental health issues in athletes are rare, as they’re perceived to be extremely physically healthy with fewer psychological issues. In truth, mental illness is likely to be as common in athletes as it is in the general population. With access to our psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists, Priory Healthcare hopes it can support the UK’s athletes’ mental health, alongside their physical health, which has true benefits all round.”