British Athletics has announced it has started a new partnership with industry experts Cognacity, who will provide all members of the World Class Programme with access to their confidential counselling and mental health support service, supported by Bupa.

This unique counselling service will provide Olympic and Paralympic World Class Programme athletes with rapid 24/7 access to Cognacity’s national team of psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors and will be extended to support all athletes at European and World Championships and the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Athletes will have direct and immediate access to vital psychological resources, that will help to minimise some of the barriers that can prevent those from seeking help, such as the stigma of mental illness, and further underlines British Athletics’ commitment to athlete welfare.

Athletes can expect the very best treatment pathways from Cognacity’s clinical team, who have extensive experience in the assessment of the full range of mental health conditions, including anxiety, specific performance related issues, depression, addictions and eating disorders.

British Athletics Performance Director Neil Black said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Cognacity to offer such an important service to athletes. Thanks to the partnership, help and support will always be available, and we would encourage athletes to utilise the expertise and guidance offered by Cognacity as and when they feel the need to.”

British Athletics Chief Medical Officer Noel Pollock said: “We are very pleased to be able to offer WCP athletes immediate access to renowned mental health experts who understand high performance sport. We are also delighted to be able to support British Athletics staff and athletes at those major international competitions with this important service.”

Dr Phil Hopley, Consultant Psychiatrist and Managing Director of Cognacity, said: “We are very excited to be working in partnership with British Athletics to ensure that their World Class Programme athletes have access to our outstanding mental health support. These athletes are ordinary people doing extraordinary things, however, like all of us, they are prone to the impact of chronic stress on their mental health. This work is a vital aspect of helping athletes optimise their performance.”