Author: Alun Charles Jones

In current years, there has been a growing recognition of the impact of competing in elite sports on the emotional and physical ill-health of athletes and coaches. Ray Wilkins- elite athlete, coach, and manager The recent and sad death of well-respected footballer, Ray Wilkins has once more highlighted the effects of high-performance cultures on the health and well being of sportsmen and women. Just before his death, Ray Wilkins spoke of long-standing ill-health, substance misuse, fear of rejection and the shame he felt because of unsuccessful attempts to manage his feelings in relation to perceived success and failure in football.…

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With the rise in elite athletes disclosing mental health difficulties in the United Kingdom, it seemed clear that a strategy for protecting mental health was required in order to protect individuals and families from the traumas associated with mental ill-health. In response to the rise in incidents and disclosures, the UK government has proposed that all elite sports develop a clear mental health strategy by 2024. A long way off? Perhaps – but a much-needed development to ensure that young athletes, along with those facing the challenges of retirement, are not emotionally damaged through their participation in various sports. The…

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I recently helped out at a fundraising event for the proposed Liverpool Cancer Hospital. Accompanied by my Godson, I went along to Everton Football Club and spent an enjoyable afternoon fundraising with fans of the ` Peoples Club`. It was a happy day with all fans, thoughtful, generous and humorous while making their donations and in generally a good spirited mood. I called on my relatively limited knowledge of Everton FC so as to engage with fans and spoke about current and previous players. One name dominated – Neville Southall! A long-standing Everton fan informed me that each week, he…

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All I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football. (Albert Camus, 1913– 1960) Albert Camus (1913–1960) was an Algerian philosopher, a novelist and a Nobel Prize winner for literature. Much like his contemporary Jean-Paul Sartre, Camus’ work reflected a philosophy of the absurd together with an understanding of personal alienation and disenchantment with living. Yet qualities of human dignity and social connection also featured as an important part of his belief in conducting life within a schema of human integrity. They are principles which apply to mental health and well-being along with recovery approaches to mental…

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A Brief Outline of a Conversational Therapy Service Working conversationally with the physically ill, the dying and bereaved is arguably a neglected aspect of general health care provision. Healthcare professionals working with people that are physically ill sometimes lack specialised knowledge and experience required to sustain patients through difficult periods of emotional upheaval. There may be benefits from referral to a trained and registered psychotherapist who can provide specialised conversational therapies for people experiencing life changes in response to those who are dying and bereaved. How does the Service Work? In many instances a grieving person will be supported by family and friends and professional help…

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The title of this article is taken from the book `Wings of Sparrows` by author Dougie Brimson and reflects how football can represent our innermost values, aspirations, absurdities and rivalries. Football for many, as the title suggests, is much more than a game it is an expression of life itself with all of its complexities and sadly casualties. Throughout elite sports, much like broader society, there are currently initiatives to address a responsibility of care to athletes and reduce the incidence of mental ill-health. In past years media attention has generally been confined to salacious accounts of sports men and…

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’I must say that Stanley’s all-round game was sensational… Stan’s first touch was the key. He had a left foot like a hand, and could put the ball anywhere he wanted it to be. It wasn’t a case of controlling the ball first, because he knew he could do that, it was what he was going to do after that. He was like one of those highly technical foreign players; he just had that type of ability.’ (Terry Venables) During the 1970s, as a young man of twenty-one both living and working in North West London, I adopted Queens Park…

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Retirement can be a difficult life event for anyone. While for some retirement is a time for recreation, travel and increased family time, for others it can be a rudderless period in their lives. Without the buffers of a previous sense of identity, purpose, belonging and meaning, emotional life can become like tumbleweed. Elite athletes are typically viewed by the public and fans as focused and generally emotionally robust. However, the culture of stoicism and competition that pervade elite sports serve to prevent athletes from disclosing concerns about their health and well-being along with, and often linked to, fears of…

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Worldwide there are concerns for the quality of healthcare available to elite sport men and women experiencing mental health problems. One in four people, regardless of position or status, will experience mental ill-health at some point in their lives. For elite athletes to achieve their potential while maintaining a sense of personal well–being, mental health is as important as physical health and so should not be thought of separately. Whatever walk of life, faith, values, beliefs, sexual orientation, culture, age or ethnicity – dignity and respect are legitimate human rights and arguably critical to emotional and physical health. In recent…

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The following information is a draft proposal designed to help you make the best decision about appropriate health and well-being training. The proposal concerns on-going confidential support for elite sports men and women.This proposal will help you consider whether adjustments to the lifestyle of players, managers and coaches are needed, and ways changes would contribute to better health and improve performance. Why might well-being training required? During 2012 Sarah Crompton, a Daily Telegraph journalist in the UK, wrote poignantly about the death of Hanover goalkeeper Robert Enke.Crompton writes eloquently of Robert Enke’s struggle with depression and worries concerning his performance…

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