Chris Hornby, Sport Development Manager at the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), shares why his organisation has signed-up to the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation and how they have gone about producing an action plan.
Why did you sign-up to the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation?
The WPBSA is a players’ association as well as a governing body and so has to care about its players’ wellbeing as much as uphold the governance and rules of the sport. Snooker and Billiards are individual sports which involve mental strength and determination as well as the skill and accuracy needed to win. With the pressure and travelling involved in the global schedule that our membership now plays in, the tour can be an isolating and lonely place for them should they not be playing well or feeling their best.
It was important for the WPBSA as an organisation to outline support available to its membership, staff around the tour/in the office, grass roots coaches/players and the fans.
The WPBSA is committed to breaking the negative stigma that has on occasion been associated to mental health problems and is looking to support its players to be open and honest with any difficulties they face.
How did you go about putting your action plan together?
We used the fantastic template - provided by Mind, Sport and Recreation Alliance and Professional Players Federation - to work from when we put the WPBSA plan together. As a starting point I simply reviewed each example given and tailored them to suit the size of our organisation, the work we had already in place or removed them completely if they were unsuitable for our sport. A lot of the tasks in this were very achievable and so it was easy to amend them to work for us.
Hayley Jarvis, Community Programmes Manager (Sport) for Mind, was more than helpful with reviewing what we had drafted, offering advice and providing support documentation around certain actions.
How have you found the action plan helpful?
The action plan has helped greatly with keeping us focused on the tasks we have committed to implement. I have kept it as a permanent item in my Sport Development update to the WPBSA board so there is no escape from the commitment we have made to the tasks included.
Alongside this with social media output and World Mental Health Day, WPBSA and World Snooker staff have also been made more aware of our plans and actions so far around mental health through display posters and emails using templates/literature Mind has provided.
What action have you committed to taking?
Our first action was through outlining our commitment to the Charter and creating specific areas within the WPBSA and World Snooker websites. We then pushed these new website additions through our social media output both promoting our commitment, but also the then upcoming World Mental Health Day.
Hayley attended our coaches seminar at the UK Championships in York in November 2015. This enabled us to get the message to our network of grass roots coaches across the globe. We are now looking to build on these easy steps by finding an ambassador/player role model who is willing to openly speak about current or previous mental health problems. This will not be easy for a player to do, so we have engaged with Hayley again to get some advice on the approach needed. Once someone is willing to talk we hope to produce case studies or articles to highlight that mental health problems are not uncommon and even top sportsmen and women can be affected by them.
Click here to find out more about the WPBSA.
The Charter steering group plans to share examples of action plans as part of the one-year anniversary celebration so keep an eye out for those!