Ellen Ryan becomes AIS Mental Fitness ambassador

Ellen Ryan becomes AIS Mental Fitness ambassador

by Bowls Australia on 31 January 2023

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has welcomed new research that reveals more Australian high-performance athletes are prioritizing their mental health.

The AIS Mental Health Audit, run by mental health research institute Orygen, showed 50 percent of the 305 athletes who took part in the survey sought treatment in 2022, compared to just 39 percent of participants in 2018.

The biennial survey also showed positive improvement in the mental health and well-being of high-performance support staff and coaches, with 61 percent of those who responded sharing that their sports environment is a safe place to disclose mental health issues.

Matti Clements, acting director of AIS, said while it was great to see the stigma of mental health improving across the sector, more improvement was needed in the prevention space.

“The Australian high performance sport system is united in the vision of winning well, which means balancing ambitious performance goals with safe, fair and supportive cultures and ensuring our athletes, coaches and support staff win in all areas of life.

“The AIS Mental Health Referral Network is an important part of creating that environment of sustainable success. It has provided free, confidential advice and world-class services to more than thirteen hundred people since launching in 2018.

“There is still work to be done. The AIS Mental Health Audit showed that in 2022 more than a quarter of athletes experienced anxiety or depression and our priority is to ensure that everyone in the high performance sport system receives help when they need it.” As part of its commitment to improving mental health and wellbeing, the AIS has once again partnered with the Black Dog Institute for the Mental Fitness Programme, an initiative aimed at reducing the rates of mental health issues among young Australians.

Over the next six months, 22 high-performance athletes, including Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games athletes, will become AIS Mental Fitness Ambassadors and share their personal stories and mental health strategies with thousands of high school students across the country.

Among the ambassadors is Australian bowler and two-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist Ellen Ryan, who said seeking help for her mental health changed the course of her career.

“In 2018, I narrowly missed out on the team for the Commonwealth Games. The current team has been really successful internationally, and I just haven’t been able to break in yet. For me, I worked so hard and sacrificed a lot. It made me not want to play anymore and I lost my confidence.

“With the support of my Athlete Wellness and Engagement Manager, the AIS Mental Health Referral Network and the support of my close friends and family, I was able to overcome the challenges I faced.”

Co-Ambassador for Mental Fitness and Olympic rower Giorgia Patten said: “Members of the community and especially young people look up to Olympic and Paralympic athletes and we are often seen as bulletproof.

“I believe it is important for our athletes to show vulnerability and allow people to see that even some of their biggest sporting heroes are going through difficult times. I am determined to help educate as many young people as possible to build their mental resilience for life’s challenges.”

Schools interested in having an AIS Mental Fitness Athlete Ambassador visit can submit an online request here.

Those who want to know more about the AIS Mental Health Referral Network can click here.

2023 AIS Mental Fitness Program athlete ambassadors:

Aleisha Power, Hockey Australia, Perth

Caitlin Parker, Combat Australia, Melbourne

David Bryant, Triathlon Australia, Perth

Elizabeth Simms, Water Polo Australia, Sydney

Ellen Ryan, Bowls Australia, Goulburn, NSW

Emily Hamilton-Smith, Hockey Australia, Melbourne

Giorgia Patten, Rowing Australia, Sydney

Jack Cleary, Rowing Australia, Canberra

Jean van der Westhuyzen, Paddle Australia, Gold Coast

Laetisha Scanlan, Shoot Australia, Melbourne

Lily Alton Triggs, Rowing Australia, Brisbane

Matthew Glaetzer, AUSCycling, Adelaide

Mitchell Larkin, Swimming Australia, Brisbane

Nathan Katz, Judo Australia, Melbourne

Seve de Campo, Snow Australia, Canberra

Sian Whittaker, Swimming Australia, Melbourne

Sophie Jackson, Australian Sailing, Melbourne

Stefanie Weiler, Volleyball Australia, Adelaide

Tamsin Cook, Swimming Australia, Melbourne

Tegan Reder, Swimming Australia, Perth

Zana Evans, Snow Australia, Jindabyne

Zoe Vorenas, Equestrian Australia, Melbourne

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *