The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has set up a 24-hour helpline, called ‘Mentally Fit Helpline’, for athletes competing in Tokyo to help them overcome stress and anxiety due to bio-bubble life at the Games.
A joint initiative of the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the helpline will be available during and for up to three months after the Games.
World No. 2 tennis player Naomi Osaka had in May raised the issue of the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of sportspersons. The Japanese player had pulled out of the French Open before her second-round match, saying she had anxiety issues while speaking to the media and that she had “suffered a long bout of depression.”
That had set the tennis world talking about the mental wellbeing of sportspersons, and the IOC’s helpline is an effort to help athletes tackle such problems.
The helpline will be staffed by counsellors, who can provide help, advice, and support in over 70 languages, said a report on IOC’s official website.
“The helpline offers in-the-moment clinical support, structured short-term counselling, practical support and, if needed, guidance to the appropriate IOC reporting mechanisms in the case of harassment and/or abuse. The service is free and can be accessed via phone, email, instant messaging or the iConnectYou app.”
Athletes who register with the helpline during the Games will benefit from six structured short-term counselling sessions providing on-the-spot clinical support for up to three months post-competition.
The helpline is in addition to the mental health support services in place during the Games (including the presence of onsite psychologists and psychiatrists in the Village Polyclinic).