THE COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is the biggest health crisis for generations, with the pandemic increasing the mental health risks for our society.

Before the crisis hit, mental illness was already the single largest cause of ill health and disability in the North with around one in five adults and around 45,000 of children suffering from a mental health problem at any one time. The impact of Covid19 will potentially result in a further increase, exacerbating the pre-existing troubled state of affairs regarding mental health in NI.

The UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, Refuge, has reported a 700 per cent increase in calls to its helpline in a single day.

Young Minds reveals 32 per cent of young people agreed that COVID-19 had made their mental health much worse and 51 per cent agreed that it had made their mental health a bit worse. Here, stigma is still a major deterrent to seeking help for mental illness.

Prescription rates for mood and anxiety disorders has increased with a higher rate in women than men.

Given the above statistics, Sport NI CEO Antoinette McKeown, in partnership with the PHA, has announced the launch of The Sport Wellbeing Hub in response to the COVID 19 challenge.

The Hub is unique, as it provides instant access to helpful information, guidance and screening that is tailored specifically to help care for our wellbeing needs.

Speaking online at the launch, Antoinette McKeown said: “We developed The Sport Wellbeing Hub with Inspire; to help you create your own wellbeing care-plan, as well as giving guidance on support through a guided self-assessment.

“It helps to provide the right help, right now, with online access to a range of fantastic and useful resources that are tailored to the user, which is so important at this challenging time.”

The Sport Wellbeing Hub is a valuable online resource that we encourage you to use. The Hub is for everyone across the sporting community, those who are involved in sport, at all levels and all abilities. Everyone.

The Sport Wellbeing Hub, provides a fantastic range of innovative tools and resources, including: Guided self-assessment via ‘Chatbot’; Self-help programmes and digital intervention tools; Searchable ‘5 ways to wellbeing’ map; and Wellbeing information library; Video content featuring some of our sporting heroes talking about mental health.

Oisin McConville, former All-Ireland winner with Armagh and counsellor said: “Well-being covers so many different facets of life, for many years there was a stigma around anybody addressing their mental health.

“Thankfully we are in a much better place now, society is tackling mental health and wellbeing head on.

“There are lots of avenues to track, react and better our wellbeing including The Sport Wellbeing Hub.

“There’s a function that can track your mood from week-to-week and I’d advise anyone to check it, engage with it because The Sport Wellbeing Hub will help all areas of mental health.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Ireland rugby star, Dr Claire McLaughlin.

“The Sport Wellbeing Hub has so much information, loads of resources covering anxiety, depression, bereavement, sleep and more,” explained Dr McLaughlin.

“During such an uncertain time, it’s important we try to manage our mental health. I’m currently working as a doctor at the Ulster hospital. Seeing people coming into A&E in crisis and having struggles on mental health, I think it’s so important we focus on this.”

Joe Donnelly, TAMHI manager is another who sees the merits of the scheme: “This almost one stop shop for information and resources will be invaluable to clubs.

“Having Sport NI and Inspire ensuring quality and relevant content will really help with clubs developing Wellbeing capacity.”

Group Director of Inspire Professional Services, John Conaghan added: “Inspire are delighted to have developed this unique resource in partnership with Sport NI.

“Now more than ever we hope that it will offer practical support and guidance to help thousands of people in sporting communities across Northern Ireland to look after their wellbeing.”

Whether looking for some advice or need a little more direction, please visit The Sports Wellbeing Hub: