Fri | Feb 26, 2021

Concern for coaches’ mental well-being

Published:Friday | October 23, 2020 | 12:16 AM

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Aggrey Irons says local coaches having mental challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic need assistance.

This follows a recent announcement by the Ministry of Sports that help is coming for athletes who are experiencing mental challenges because they have not been able to engage in sports.

Irons told The Gleaner that the inability to resume sporting activities can cause several challenges for those involved, and support for them is important at this time.

“Coaches are a part of the whole process and have invested in the progress of athletes, in which they can earn an income,” Irons said. “What is more important is that stress, any kind of stress, is the human response to change. Any change at all, depending on how high the impact is, will cause stress, and coaches and athletes normally strive on stress. But when that stress is too much, it causes a problem. Athletes, coaches, sports administrators and anybody involved in stress and stress management will undergo stress themselves. And so, the whole psychology of stress management, not just psychological or psychiatric elements, has to be taken into account in a high-stress situation like sports.

“Remember that athletes are special people, and that is what they have in common with coaches as well. They are accustomed to being in the limelight, in other words, they live their lives under scrutiny of fans and the public. Generally, their response is usually magnified by the number of people looking on, and people tend to internalise what they see in their heroes and stars.”

Sprintec Track Club head coach Maurice Wilson said that it has not been an easy time for athletes and coaches during this period. However, he is hoping that those who need help can be assisted soon.

“I cannot speak for all coaches. I can only speak for myself at this point in time,” he said. “If I was to get some assistance, I would prefer for it to be directed towards the athletes. Help for our athletes is what is most important, and if their psychological needs are not taken care of, it will affect them.

“I think what is good for athletes is for them to have some form of assistance until they start to compete. Not specifically towards their psychological well-being. If you fix their psychological well-being and their basic needs are not met, they are going to still have psychological problems. I think what is important right now is some assistance towards their basic needs.”

– Athena Clarke