Mental health

The IOC Sport Mental Health Recognition Tool

Sadness, anger, stress, irritability and anxiety are all normal parts of the human experience; however, if these problems persist for long periods of time or have a big impact on someone’s sport career or daily life, it may indicate that the athlete is experiencing a mental health problem.

As mental health problems are common in elite athletes, it remains essential to identify them as early as possible in order to refer the athlete for management and/or treatment for potential mental health problems in a timely manner.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Sport Mental Health Recognition Tool 1 (SMHRT-1) can be used by athletes, coaches, family members and all other members of the athlete’s entourage to recognise mental health problems but not to diagnose them. The SMHRT-1 presents a list of athlete experiences (thoughts, feelings, behaviours, physical changes) that could be indicative of mental health problems.

If an athlete reports and/or displays these experiences and they are significant and/or persistent, you have an important role in encouraging the athlete to get the support needed as early as possible. The SMHRT-1 in its current form can be freely copied for distribution to individuals, teams, groups and organizations.

NOTE: Any revision to the SMHRT-1 requires the specific approval by the IOC Mental Health Working Group (MHWG) while any translation should be reported to the IOC MHWG. The SMHRT-1 should not be re-branded or sold for commercial gain.


You can find the SMHRT-1 here:

! Red flags !

If an athlete (or you) experience or observe any of the following, seek immediate help.

  • Comments related to harming self or others.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or so overwhelmed
  • that you cannot function.
  • Dramatic weight changes.
  • Other highly uncharacteristic behaviours, emotions and appearances.
  • An episode of overwhelming sudden onset of fear with marked physical symptoms such as sweating or shortness of breath that has never before been experienced or is different from prior episodes (could be a panic attack or another medical problem).

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