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Hannah McCormack Msc. University Limerick, Psychology Matters Day.
Sport psychologists work to ensure that an athlete is mentally prepared for performance and safeguarding their well-being. Sport psychologists are increasingly employed to assist athletes, coaches and support staff in high-performance sport systems (e.g. Munster Rugby). Mental health disorder and psychological distress are commonplace within athletic settings. The causes are complex but athletes are often denied autonomy, train excessively and lack knowledge around self-care, well-being and mental health. Sport, by its nature, has competitive stress and occurs within a culture (organizational stress). The question is whether practitioner sport psychologists are immune to these stressors and are armed with the appropriate skills and social support. If they lack the coping skills and their well-being is under threat this could have a major impact on the athletes’ welfare too. Research suggests that they are highly engaged workers often working 12 hour days. Those who used peer support in their work setting fared better than those whose relied upon the external social support. Lack of training in self-care was evident but exercise and mindfulness were used to de-stress. Lessons learned are that formal training in self-care and well-being are required even for those whose primary role is to promote it.