NWU offers service to better athletes’ wellbeing

Johan Van Zyl -- Wed, 05/25/2016 - 10:36

NWU offers service to better athletes’ wellbeing

It is a growing tendency in countries such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the USA to implement services to look after the wellbeing of players/athletes. The North-West University (NWU) has partnered with MyPlayers, the official organisation of the professional rugby players in South Africa, to offer players the resources they need in order to look after their mental health.

The “Confidential Helpline” service will be available 24/7 for members of the South African Rugby Players Association (SARPA) and will be run and operated by the NWU’s Institute of Psychology and Wellbeing (IPW). There will be a single national number, which players will be able to contact from anywhere and which will put them in touch with the IPW via an answering service.

Prof Pieter Kruger, director of the IPW says within 60 minutes of the call going into the helpline, the relevant player will be contacted by the IPW to start the process of setting up the appointment with an IPW associate psychologist in the geographical area of the player.

“We provide a range of evidence-based services to the public, businesses, corporate companies and elite sports organisations, with a focus on making a meaningful difference through optimising performance and enhancing wellbeing. The Confidential Helpline programme is a bespoke service we have developed in conjunction with the South African Rugby Players Association (SARPA) through MyPlayers.

As part of the Wellbeing and Clinical Services component of this programme the IPW has established a network of professional, effective, well-trained and experienced counselling/clinical psychologists to act as associates of the IPW and service providers in each of the following 14 locations:

Pretoria (Blue Bulls), Wellington (Boland), East London (Border), Port Elizabeth (Eastern Province), Kempton Park (Falcons/Valke), Bloemfontein (Free State), Johannesburg (Golden Lions), Welkom (Griffons), Kimberley (Griquas), Durban (KwaZulu-Natal/Sharks), Potchefstroom (Leopards), Nelspruit (Pumas), George (South Western District Eagles) and Cape Town (Western Province/Stormers).

The IPW associate psychologists are trained and competent in dealing with treatment and a vast range of challenges (including, but not limited to)

  • anxiety disorders and reactions to stress;
  • mood disorders (depression and bipolar disorder);
  • addictions (alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, sex and relationships);
  • neuropsychological problems especially memory problems/concentration;
  • family and relational problems;
  • psychological problems related to chronic pain, injury, etc.;
  • behavioural disorders (eating disorders, impulse control and anger management);
  • cognitive behavioural therapy;
  • acceptance and commitment therapy;
  • motivational interviewing and mindfulness;
  • family and couples therapy;
  • short-term psychodynamic therapy;
  • client-centred therapy and
  • referral for psychiatric intervention (where indicated).

Kruger says the player will get continuous feedback as they go through the process when they have been referred into the service (at the end of each session).

“It is planned down the line to run some awareness sessions in conjunction with MyPlayers to create a better awareness about the services on offer and also to equip players and staff with some basic proactive resilience and wellbeing skills. Part of the treatment process will include customising a specific plan of action to maintain and optimise the strategies discussed in session. This is standard practice in the evidence-based intervention approaches,” Kruger says.