Cate Campbell Among 12 Olympians & Experts Fronting Wellbeing-Week Focus On Mental Health

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Cate Campbell - Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

Olympic champions, Tokyo 2020 hopefuls and a global music star will help empower athletes’ mental health this September, the Australian Olympic Committee noted as it released the official line-up of 12 athletes and experts for Wellbeing Week in September.

Cate Campbell, the Australian swimming sprint ace with Olympic, World and Commonwealth crowns to her credit, is among the 12 who will front daily live-streamed shows between September 7 and 11, their Wellbeing-Week focus set to showcase “how Australians can improve their mental health and wellbeing”.

Campbell will feature in the September 10 show with surfer Owen Wright and Dr Simon Rosenbaum, Associate Professor & Scientia Fellow UNSW Sydney. Their theme, coinciding with R U OK Day:

Empower Your Mental Health

Wright, who has provisionally secured a quota for surfing’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, understands well what it takes to overcome mental battles: after a wipeout in 2015 at Hawaii’s Pipeline left Owen with a brain injury, he had to relearn how to walk – and surf –  again. He says:

“Recovering from my accident gave me a new perspective on mental strength. Fear is always present, but for me it’s about embracing and acknowledging it, rather than wishing it away. From the trauma, I have way more respect for the mental strength side of my training. For me, having mental strength means I can see these huge waves coming and think: I’m going, I can do this.”

The daily shows, from 1.00-1.30pm AEST will be hosted by Water Polo Olympian Amy Jones andcan be streamed on the Australian Olympic Team’s website, Facebook and YouTube.

Here’s the kind of work Dr Rosenbaum focusses on:

Each daily show will focus on a different theme and spotlight the various ways you can improve your wellbeing, the AOC announced today.

Beyond Campbell, Wright and Rosenbaum, Rio 2016 silver medallist sailor Lisa Darmanin and musician and World Wildlife Fund Ocean Ambassador Cody Simpson will “:share their mutual passion for environmental protection”, while “indigenous hurdler Kyle Vander-Kuyp,  tennis champion Sam Stosur and Algerian-born runner Youcef Abdi [will reveal] the importance of identity to their wellbeing”. Landscaper Charlie Albone will focus on finding “career contentment through unplanned pathways”.

The Wellbeing Week Line-Up

Date Theme Guests
7 September Empower Your Passion Lisa Darmanin & Cody Simpson
8 September Empower Your Future Jane Flemming & Charlie Albone
9 September Empower Your Friendships Belle Brockhoff & Holly Crawford
10 September Empower Your Mental Health Cate Campbell, Owen Wright & Dr Simon Rosenbaum
11 September Empower Your Identity Kyle Vander-Kuyp, Sam Stosur & Youcef Abdi

AOC CEO Matt Carroll embraced the initiative to support mental health and wellbeing, saying.

“This is a crucial time to shine a spotlight on the importance of mental health. Like people right around the world, athletes are doing their best to adapt to the unprecedented challenges and disruption to daily life caused by this pandemic.

“Wellbeing Week will provide an opportunity for Olympians and experts to share their own journeys and passions away from sport to help inspire Australians to take steps to improve their own wellbeing.”

He thanked the insurer Allianz for its backing of the project and “your support of Australian athletes and recognising the importance of taking care of mental health through initiatives like Wellbeing Week.”

In the last show, on September 11, Olympic sprinter and member of the AOC Indigenous Advisory Committee Kyle Vander-Kuyp will share his story as part of the “Empower your Identity” themed day. He says:

“My Identity is so important to me as it lays the foundation of who I am. I draw strength in the knowledge that my ancestry goes back to over 50 000 years and I am excited to share this as a part of the AOC’s 2020 Wellbeing Week.

“I have come to realise wellbeing comes in different ways and forms and I am excited to gain insights from fellow Olympians talk about the importance of empowering your identity. No matter what life brings you and how it shapes you, you need to be true to yourself.”

The themed week marks the start of a three-year partnership between the AOC and the Australian arm of German insurance giant Allianz.

Nick Adams, Allianz Australia’s Chief Marketing Manager, noted that the partnership with the AOC is aimed at helping to support a range of mental health initiatives for Olympic athletes through events such as Wellbeing Week and a “Wellness Engagement Series”. Said Adams:

“In working with the AOC we want to encourage athletes to speak openly about their fears and vulnerabilities to show that even the strongest among us are vulnerable; it’s ok to have fears, but we can’t let them stop us from progressing. It is about reframing and conquering what frightens us, because only then can we grow and achieve greatness. Through our partnership, we also want to show true support isn’t just to be there for the highs, it’s to be there through the lows, the recovery and even through the postponement of the Olympic Games.”

Background on the Mental Health theme at the heart of Campbell’s show with Wright & Rosenbaum

For those looking forward to the Cate Campbell session, here is some of the discussion Dr Rosenbaum has been involved in that relates directly to mental health and wellbeing and the important role of sport. This forum also discusses some of the approaches to dramatic changes in the circumstances and environment in sport as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, points relevant to the elite end of competitive swimming (and the issues raised and tips given by Bill Sweetenham here at Swimming World over the weekend) and all other levels of sport, from youth to fitness and in old age.

The forum features

  • Dr. Karestan Koenen – Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Dr. Brendon Stubbs – Head of Physiotherapy South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation trust; NIHR Clinical Lecturer Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London
  • Dr. Simon Rosenbaum – Associate Professor & Scientia Fellow UNSW Sydney
  • Dr. Joseph Firth – Presidential Fellow, University of Manchester; Honorary Fellow, Western Sydney University
  • Dr. Karmel Choi – Clinical and Research Fellow Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Psychiatric & Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital



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