Australia's gold medal hopefuls have joined forces to fight the black dog of depression in the wake of a spike in athletes seeking help for their mental health.
The AIS has partnered with the Black Dog Institute to build a program designed to reduce rates of mental health in young Australians.
The mental fitness program is being driven by 27 current and former elite athletes - among them a raft of Olympic, Paralympic, and Commonwealth Games stars.
The athletes have undergone online training focusing on key elements of mental health such as gratitude, mindfulness, meaning and purpose.
It is hoped they will now be able to assist in delivering mental wellbeing presentations, both in person and online, at high schools throughout Australia.
Canberra-based para-athlete Cameron Crombie has claimed shot put F38 gold at world championships and Commonwealth Games and leapt at the chance to be involved.
"Leading up until this point it was always really focused on a strong physical side of things," Crombie said.
"Over time it became relevant that my mental health played so much more of a factor than I thought.
"If I can build on that in myself and impact some of that knowledge to high school kids in the process of going out and doing these talks, then that's a lovely way that I'd like to give back to the community.
"As athletes if we can use our experience and our training to impart some of that knowledge and maybe prepare our young students for some battles and tougher times, then it might set them up to progress through stronger, faster, and have a better outlook on life in general."
The AIS program is being launched a week after revelations the institute has witnessed a 50 per cent rise in athletes seeking support for mental health issues over a five-week period.
The delay of the Olympic and Paralympic Games due to the coronavirus pandemic may have had a role to play in the spike.
Further highlighting the need for such programs are the recent deaths of Olympian figure skater Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and former AFL player Shane Tuck.
It is estimated that 1 in 5 people will experience symptoms of mental illness in any given year throughout Australia, and approximately 60 per cent of those people won't seek help.
Black Dog Institute research reveals more than 75 percent of mental health issues develop before the age of 25, which has sparked the AIS' directive to tailor a program towards teenagers.
Mental Fitness Program athlete presenters: Alyce Wood, Paddle Australia; Andrew Edmondson, Wheelchair Rugby; Belinda Maxworthy, Archery Australia; Cam Crombie, Athletics Australia; Carlee Beattie, Athletics Australia; Carly James, Hockey Australia; Declan Stacey, Diving; Dylan Pietsch, Rugby Australia; Georgie Rowe, Rowing Australia; Gordon Allan, Cycling Australia; Harry Garside, Boxing Australia; Holly Takos, Cycling Australia; Jaime Roberts, Paddle Australia; Jennifer Tait, Volleyball Australia; Jo Brigden-Jones, Paddle Australia; Joshua Thornton, Bowls Australia; Kaye Scott, Boxing Australia; Kieran Woolley, Skate Australia; Liam Twomey, Triathlon Australia; Matthew Denny, Athletics Australia; Melissa Tapper, Table Tennis Australia; Mitchell Gourley, Snow Australia; Nicola Hammond, Hockey Australia; Nikki Ayers, Rowing Australia; Noemie Fox, Paddle Australia; Olivia Vivian, Gymnastics Australia; Rachel Tallent, Athletics Australia
- Support is available for those who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800; beyondblue 1300 224 636; 1800-RESPECT 1800 737 732.