GB Taekwondo Mental health and wellbeing project
The client and their challenge
GB Taekwondo is an organisation that is responsible for preparing British Taekwondo athletes to deliver medals at World and Olympic Games.
The challenge is to enable athletes and staff to perform over a four year Olympic cycle at the highest level whilst maintaining good physical and mental wellbeing. If athletes do not win medals, funding for the organisation is at risk. Athletes and staff travel to overseas competitions on a regular basis and are often away from home for long periods of time. This can be tiring and stressful. GB Taekwondo wanted to be able to provide the best environment possible and encourage people to ask for support. They wanted to break down the stigma of talking about mental health and wellbeing.
We started the project by gathering information about the current understanding and views of mental health in the organisation.
Athletes and staff were asked to complete a questionnaire about:
- their own levels of wellbeing
- how comfortable they were talking to someone if they are finding things hard, and where they would go
- how able they felt to spot signs of mental health issues in others
- how able they felt to know what to do if someone needed help.
The data from these questionnaires allowed us to design the project in the best way possible, and provided a benchmark that we could compare future results to.
A series of workshops were run to help break down the stigma of talking to someone about your mental health, using examples of role models that people could relate to who have been open about this. We discussed why people might find it hard to talk and how to spot signs of mental health issues in others. Participants were shown the internal and external pathways for support.
Small discussion groups were held to teach mind management skills, so people could be proactive rather than reacting to difficulties they may have at a later point. This covered topics such as switching off at night, sleep, managing your energy and managing stress. Sessions on mindfulness and relaxation were provided and a massage therapist was made available.
The leadership team were involved to look at ways they could improve wellbeing as an organisation. We believe that the organisaiton has a responsibility to provide the best working environment possible. We were able to work with the HR manager to look at flexible working practices. Line manager training was introduced, as our mental wellbeing is strongly influenced by our relationship with our manager.
During the project people came forward and asked for help, which they said they wouldn’t have done before; this enabled them to get the right support. People also reported feeling better equipped to manage their own and other people’s mental health, and knew where to go for support.
People reported that it was really helpful to learn how their minds worked and why we experience things such as stress, anxiety and depression.
Talking about mental health has become common practice. Line managers report being more confident to discuss wellbeing with those they manage, and those using flexible working have found it has made a big difference to their work productivity and satisfaction.
The questionnaire results showed a significant improvement in confidence in spotting mental health issues in others, confidence in knowing how to support others and knowing where to go for support.
The questionnaires are given out every six months so these areas can be continually measured. We are constantly looking at new ideas to bring the mental health project to life.