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Australia starts mental health service for athletes

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Canberra, March 24: Australia's apex sporting body has launched a mental health support service for top athletes.


Sport Australia on Sunday said the Mental Health Referral Network (MHRN) will provide 1,000 athletes, members of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), access to 27 psychologists and mental health practitioners, reported Xinhua news agency.

"There has been a critical need to build mental health literacy and support mechanisms to assist athletes access help across our high performance sport networks," AIS Deputy Director Matti Clements said.

"The MHRN will provide timely assessment and services to support Australia's top athletes. Professional guidance and counselling is crucial for athlete's mental health, and that requires immediate access to committed, high quality mental health practitioners," he said.

The plan was aimed at helping Australia's top athletes to stay very best in life as well as sport, Clements said.

Sport 2030, Sport Australia's blueprint for sport over the next 11 years, cites athlete's wellbeing, including mental health, as one of its key priorities.

The announcement coincided with 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist in race walking Dane Bird-Smith's disclosure about his mental health struggles, which he faced one night in 2017 while walking over Brisbane's Story Bridge.

"There was just this moment when I was standing on the side of the bridge. I stood there for maybe half-an-hour thinking it would be all so much easier to end it there and push it all away," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

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