State of Mind Ireland: Mental Fitness & Wellbeing

14 Oct 2016
The Central Hotel, Donegal Town

State of Mind Ireland: Mental Fitness & Wellbeing

Sports Club Workshop:

Who should attend?
This workshop is aimed at players, athletes and coaches from local sports clubs

This workshop will describe the State of Mind Ireland All-Island campaign which promotes mental fitness. The workshop will include an introduction to the State of Mind Ireland Programme and an interactive discussion on Mental Fitness, Exercise and ‘Take 5′ (5 ways to wellbeing). The session will close with a brief introduction to mindfulness based practice along with suggested additional resources.

Focus of Planned Initiative
State of Mind Ireland wants to get people talking about positive mental health, to raise public awareness of and engagement with positive coping strategies using the concept of ‘mental fitness’, which incorporates both (i) a strengths based approach to wellbeing and (ii) resilience, the ability ‘to bounce back’ from adversity. We use a blended learning approach with the aim of offering a skills based intervention to students in third level in Ireland, in partnership with University College Cork, University of Ulster and Queens University Belfast. We want third level students to know how to access help early and build community resilience via participation in Sport, physical exercise and awareness of skills based coping strategies (Take 5- Five ways to wellbeing). The State of Mind Ireland Programme has been developed in partnership with service users (Shine), statutory, academic and charitable sectors (CRSI/UCC/HSE/REACH OUT/ALL-ISLAND-ALL ACTIVE) to help lift everyone’s mental health.

Mental Health is not simply the absence of mental illness. Rather, in the State of Mind Ireland Progamme, the concept of Mental Fitness provides an adaptive approach to stressful life events, by normalizing distress, enhancing understanding, reframing (cognitive flexibility) and a problem-solving stance to enhance mastery and learn from adversity. These essential adaptive psychological components are taught using an adaptation of the 5 ways to wellbeing (

The existing evidence base, including large Irish studies in the Student population (Headstrong/UCD 2012) stresses that this ability to bounce back from adversity and adapt positively to life difficulties/transitions depends on both the individual’s level of wellbeing and contextual ecological resources available to that person. In particular the availability of one good adult to provide a mentorship/stewardship role and to model positive attachment behavior (attuned caring to provide a secure base for a students development) is deemed crucial.

With regard to the international context, the State of Mind programme was established in England in 2011 with the aim of improving the mental health, wellbeing and working life of sports players and their communities. So far, this educational programme has been delivered to over 14,000 sports players with the support of a number of key stakeholders including Sky Sports, NHS England and Mind UK. State of Mind has been nominated as an exemplar programme in promoting positive mental health (MIND UK, 2014) as part of the UK’s latest Suicide Prevention Strategy. This programme was subsequently adopted by the Australian National Rugby League with the concept of the ‘State of Mind Family’ incorporating players, fans and their communities being integral to the ethos of the entire project.