Beware of the blues: Mental wellness of coaches and support staff throughout the Olympic Games.

The post-Olympic period is known to be a particularly stressful time for athletes– largely due to the post-Olympic blues. We were interested to see if the post-Olympic blues were also experienced by coaches and support staff. We interviewed eight coaches and support staff on their mental wellbeing throughout participation in the Olympics and here is what we found!

The pre-games period is an exciting and demanding time. There are challenges with balancing work and personal commitments and second-guessing preparation. The at-games period is an emotional rollercoaster. It involves a complete focus on supporting athletes and as a result, it can be easy for coaches and support staff to forget their own needs. The post-games period is the most challenging and involves the post-Olympic blues. This time involves several challenges including a loss of connection to the team, a mental and physical crash, and increased irritation, rumination, and low mood. Participants moved past the blues by reflecting on their impact and working towards their next objective.

From these results, the following supports were identified to promote the mental wellbeing of coaches and support staff throughout Olympic participation. 1) Manage the workload before the Olympics; 2) Teach emotion regulation and wellbeing strategies (e.g., self- reflection) before the Olympics; 3) Educate coaches and support staff of the post-Olympic blues; 4) Allow Mental Performance Consultants to help coaches and support staff identify their impact and values apart from results in preparation for the games; 5) Provide opportunities to disconnect from their role during the games; 6) Provide opportunities for team members to connect following the Games; 7) Provide support groups for coaches and staff to debrief the games with others who experienced them - not from a performance perspective, but from a personal wellbeing perspective; 8) Provide rest and a plan for next steps or objectives following the Olympics.
Chris DeWolfe, MSc.                                                             Lori Dithurbide, Ph.D.
Dalhousie University                                                              Dalhousie University
Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic                                              Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic


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