Roles & Responsibilities

Athlete's entourage

  • collaborate with athletes to better comprehend the stressors in all sides of their careers (own, competing and managerial stress);
  • encourage athletes to carry out mental health screenings;
  • recognise how to respond to an athlete who is in affliction and supporting him/her through positive discussions;
  • diminish the stigma on the analysis of mental health;
  • know the IOC Sport Mental Health Recognition Tool 1 (SMHRT-1) (not useful for the diagnosis but important for the athlete's health) – this assist in perceiving when an athlete may ask for a specialist support;
  • promote a protected and aided return to play if an athlete didn't participate at some trainings or competitions for physical or mental health causes;
  • improve intellectually protected sports environments;
  • appreciate and boost ethical values included in the Olympic charter such as respect, sense of sacrifice, mutual understanding;
  • protect the rights of the athlete.


It is strongly recommended to download the IOC's "quality of a great sports coach" guidelines where the ideal coach is defined as a conclusive, confiding, determined, conscious, attentive, respectful and patient communicator.

The ideal coach disseminates friendship, assurance, sports values, audacity, control and without the use of doping in order to ensure healthy behaviours in his/her athletes.

Parents/guardians/ family/friends

They play a crucial role for the athletes because they have the potentiality to establish a reliable and solid assistance network, especially during their free time.

Physiotherapists and athletic trainers

In an event of an athlete's injury, the athlete often perceives not only physical damages but also some mental issues to conquer. Therefore, the physiotherapists and athletic trainers are really important in the early disclosure of mental health challenges and confusions.

There are many stressors and natural demands that can perturb the athlete mental health.
Below you can find the main categories:

Key stressors may be divided into three categories:

  • Competing stressor: it is due to natural requests associated with competing activities e.g. injury, preparation, under-performing, rivalry, etc.
  • Managerial stressor: they are related with the organisation which the athlete is member. In this category are included leadership, cultural, team and operational challenges.
  • Personal stressor: the natural aspects related to the athlete's personal life such as family challenges, death of a family member, academic commitments.

Traumatic stressors:

  • bullying;
  • cyberbullying;
  • physical abuse;
  • psychological abuse;
  • sexual harassment or abuse.

In the event where one or more athletes suffer from these disorders, it is fundamental to seek a help with professionals (sports psychiatrists, sports psychologists and clinical psychologists) that through educational interventions can prevent and treat mental disorders in elite athletes.

These educational programs should improve the help-seeking behaviours, enhancing alertness of mental confusions, treat stigma and support athletes through psychological first-aid.

Below you can find some key facilitators to help-seeking:

  • confidence;
  • social help;
  • convenience (money/transport);
  • discipline;
  • time management;
  • confidence previous events;
  • consciousness and literacy;
  • assimilation of the athlete's state of mind.

How to operate

PreventionInitial disclosureInitial mediationProfessional mental health support
Create a safe environment for athletes and entourage to boost the usefulness of mental health and wellness. This mean: regularly check the general health of athletes, screening for mental health confusions, awareness in psychic well-being education, enhancing intimate contacts and abolishing the stigma for psychic health support.Most of the time, the early detection of the mental confusions may be done by an entourage member such as a family member, a coach, an athletic trainer.

In order to be aware that an athlete needs first support, it is fundamental to fill-in the IOC's Mental Health Recognition Tool (SMHRT-1).
This shall be administered by experts who are familiar  to the athlete and are included in the chain of the team.

The professionals in mental health will furnish specific methods to the situation of the athlete.
The fourth and last act is seeking a professional in mental health. 

If there is a situation of emergency, we strongly recommend establishing and following the team’s Mental Health Emergency Action Plan (MHEAP).

Generally, the athlete support personnel could help the athletes through the following actions:

  • facilitate talks about mental health and psychological stress;
  • encourage support seeking;
  • enhancing communication skills like sensitive listening;
  • cooperate with the athlete ambassadors on how to help athletes;
  • don't give false information and/or declare something you won't carry out;
  • don't neglect their gender, age, lifestyle and education;
  • relate to them as a person and not as an athlete;
  • inform them about the type of specialist support available;
  • respect their willingness of privacy and don't pressure them;
  • make available a protected environment in order that they feel comfortable to share their stories.

Role of sport organisations

  • perceive the function of caution towards the athlete;
  • attend continuing education in order to provide the best help to the athletes;
  • boost convinced benefits around mental support;
  • establish programmes to enhance the period while athletes are leaving their sports career;
  • promote a confident influence around mental health;
  • establish mental health policies and a Mental Health Emergency Action Plan (MHEAP);
  • ensure a protected and adjuvant context.

Realise mental health policies

The sport organisations shall delineate the attitudes through which they want to operate for the health support.

Below you can find the categories of policies you could implement:

  • A Mental Health Emergency Action Plan (MHEAP);
  • a managerial mental support action plan;
  • a guidance for the entourage.

The role of the health professionals

In order to guarantee an optimum environment regarding mental health for athletes, it is strongly suggested to provide sports physicians and psychiatrist/psychologist that have expertise in supporting the mental wellness for baseball and softball at high-level to the athletes.

It is useful to develop some prevention strategies in order to contrast the diffusion of mental disorientations.

The three main type of interventions are:

  • Universal prevention: reaching all the athletes;
  • Selective prevention: reaching those athletes that show already some issues but are not included in the pool of high-risk;
  • Indicated prevention: reaching athletes in the pool of high risk.

Universal prevention includes:

  • having adequate policies in order to raise awareness about harassment and injustice in baseball and softball;
  • carry out frequent controls for the mental wellness;
  • general formative activities carried out by mental health professionals;
  • make sure there is in place an injury prevention program because has been found that there is a correlation between injuries and mental disorders;
  • helping the athletes in building a strategy for the career transition.

Analysis of the issues - some good examples

Medical professionals shall:

  • involve also the family in the treatments;
  • analyse if it is necessary not only a psychotherapy but even a pharmacological support;
  • take in consideration the busy time schedule of the athlete.

On the other hand, medical professionals shall not:

  • administer treatments that haven't ever used in the past;
  • send some other person in its place for the meetings.

For the therapies, you should contemplate the following scenarios:

  • probable improvements not caused by the therapy;
  • presumed advances generated by the formative activities and medications (if administered);
  • possible dangers for the health;
  • probable unfavourable repercussions on the sports activity.