Mental Health Task Force to help Olympic athletes amid COVID-19 pandemic

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – With the Olympics being postponed until 2021, athletes are adjusting to a new normal, and an extra year to train.

For Olympic athletes, the postponement of the games means an extra year to train for the most challenging physical competition of their life, but for some, the news is tough.

Olympic athletes and their coaches now have access to a mental health task force to give them support along the way.

Rachael Flatt, a 2010 Olympian and figure skating national champion experienced something similar in 2011 when a tsunami hit Japan and the national championship got put on hold for months.

“That alone was just incredibly challenging to work with so I think of that magnified times ten and that’s probably what they’re going through,” said Flatt.

Flatt is now working to get her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and hopes her experience will help current athletes who may be struggling.

“I’m incredibly passionate about athlete mental health and making sure that we’re prioritizing health and wellness really over excellence,” said Flatt.

Flatt is one of 13 members of the U.S. Olympic Mental Health Task Force, made up of former athletes and mental health professionals.

“We’re already being physically isolated from each other. And then to struggle with a difficult emotional issue alone, that’s just a double whammy I would say,” said Dr. Karen Cogan, Senior Sports Psychologist.

The task force gives athletes 24/7 access to phone counseling and other resources like emotional and wellness support, as well as financial legal help.

“I think looking forward to a year from now hopefully the athletes will have qualified and will be emotionally, mentally and physically prepared and in a place they wanna be,” said Flatt.

So when 2021 rolls around, these athletes will be stronger than ever.

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