Mental health has become part of a more open discussion across the UK, in part due to professional snowboarder Ellie Soutter. Organisations like the Ellie Soutter Foundation are at the forefront of this movement. They offer valuable support to people within the sport who may need help at pivotal times in their life or career.
But it is not just skiers and snowboarders who are affected. Sports stars such as Serena Williams, Marcus Trescothick and Rick Hatton have opened up about their problems. This has helped mental health to move out of the shadows, leaving us better equipped to address its challenges.
However, there is still a long way to go. Which is why the Ellie Soutter foundation is continuing to shine a light on improving the mental health of snow sports athletes. This also helps people from all walks of life to open up about their own mental health. There’s no shame in getting help when you need it.
There is plenty of evidence to show that taking part in sport of any kind can help to improve mental health. That’s why regular exercise and the benefits of both team and individual sports are encouraged for people of all ages and abilities.
However, competing at a serious level does come with an entirely different set of challenges which can have a detrimental effect on mental health in other ways. The stigma of mental health issues for athletes can make seeking help difficult.
For athletes performing at a high level, it can seem like a sign of weakness to admit they are struggling. But this doesn’t have to be the case. People from all walks of life suffer with mental health problems at various points, and the pressures and strains of elite sport can be a catalyst for these to develop.
Ellie Soutter’s family is committed to emotionally and financially supporting promising young ski and snowboard athletes while honouring professional snowboarder Ellie Soutter’s legacy.
Through support from the foundation, young athletes can fulfil their potential and achieve their dreams. But it will also provide them with the tools to cope with the anxiety and pressures faced by young snow sport athletes.
These issues can be very real, based on the pressure to perform or simply to find the finances to continue pursuing the sport they love. In addition, at higher levels, there is constant scrutiny of performance.
All of this can combine to be a heavy weight to bear. And without the support of those within the sport, the wider community, and professionals this can lead to mental health problems. So it is important to know that help is always available.
The foundation aims to identify and provide support for young people who have demonstrated a talent in the winter sports, such as Mia Brooks pictured above, who may need assistance. There are financial resources available to help them compete, and to help alleviate some of the pressures that can cause some mental health problems.
Of course, mental health problems are not restricted to sports stars. Sadly, far from it. According to Mind, one in four people struggle with mental health problems each year, including anxiety and depression.
If you need immediate help or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call The Samaritans for free on 116 123 to speak to someone immediately. This is a UK service, however there are similar suicide prevention phone lines around the world.
If you feel the problem is not urgent but can feel your mental health struggling for any reason, then seek help. Online counselling services such as those by MyTherapist can help with confidential, convenient, and affordable counselling with fully qualified therapists. It’s important to note that online therapy is not appropriate for serious mental health issues.
Mental health problems can and do happen to all kinds of people. In addition, they are more likely when under financial, emotional, or performance pressure.
That’s why having somewhere to turn can be so crucial and why we all need to talk more about our mental health. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness and is always the best thing you can do.
To find out more about their good work or to make a donation please visit the Ellie Soutter foundation. If you’d like to hit the slopes next winter then check out our ski vacations and snowboarding holidays worldwide.