US Olympic group adds three mental health officers

Los Angeles (AFP) – US Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials said Wednesday they have added three independent mental health officers to support American athletes ahead of next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

US Olympians were set to be competing next week in Japan before the global coronavirus pandemic forced the Games to be postponed to 2021.

“As our world continues to evolve during the challenges of a global pandemic and Games postponement, we want to ensure our athletes have the resources they need to focus on their mental health,” said Bahati VanPelt, the USOPC chief of athlete services.

Dr. Cody Commander, director of sport psychology for the University of Oklahoma athletics department, will serve as Olympic mental health officer while Emily Klueh, an athletic counselor at the University of Michigan, and Dr. Todd Stull, certified in psychiatry and addiction medicine, are Paralympic mental health officers.

The trio have helped develop a long-term mental health strategic plan, including expand telehealth offerings and an emergency action plan for US athletes.

Support resources in the wake of the pandemic and Olympic postponement include 24-hour phone counseling with certified professionals.