Courtesy: U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. – The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee today formally announced the addition of three independent mental health officers to further address mental health concerns and better serve the holistic needs of Team USA athletes.
Originally appointed to support Team USA athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games that were set to be held in Tokyo this summer, the officers have been actively working in collaboration with the USOPC’s athlete services division and external Mental Health Taskforce to develop a long-term mental health strategic plan that will further promote sustained and holistic athlete well-being.
Since learning of the Games postponement to 2021, the officers’ immediate focus has centered on supporting the creation of a USOPC mental health registry, expanding telehealth offerings and developing an emergency action plan for the Team USA athlete community. Featuring various backgrounds and specialties, the mental health officers will be members of the USOPC’s Games staff in Tokyo as originally planned, and bring a variety of experiences to their new supporting roles:
- Cody Commander, Olympic mental health officer – A clinical and sports psychologist, Dr. Commander is the owner of interdisciplinary group private practice and also serves as director of sport psychology for the University of Oklahoma athletics department.
- Emily Klueh, Paralympic mental health officer – Klueh is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and member of the athletic counseling team at the University of Michigan. An accomplished elite swimmer, she competed as a member of the U.S. national team for 10 years.
- Todd Stull, Paralympic mental health officer – Dr. Stull is a medical doctor who is board certified in psychiatry and addiction medicine, and has extensive experience working across the collegiate and international landscapes promoting athlete mental health.
“The well-being of Team USA athletes is our priority,” said Bahati VanPelt, USOPC chief of athlete services. “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. We are grateful for the extensive and diverse background each mental health officer brings to bolster support for Team USA.”
The addition of the mental health officers follows the formation of the USOPC Mental Health Taskforce earlier this year – which meets monthly to develop best practices, resources and action plans to support the mental health needs of Team USA athletes and those who support them, both on and off the field of play. Together, the taskforce and mental health officers will continue to work with the USOPC’s team of sport psychologists and internal mental health working group to develop pathways for athletes to seek and receive mental health support throughout all stages of their athlete journey – all while promoting a culture that destigmatizes mental health and encourages proactive support for all.
As USOPC sport psychologists have adapted to maintain critical support and provide virtual appointments with athletes during this unprecedented time, the USOPC has also expanded its mental health resources to further assist athletes with the impact of COVID-19 and Games postponement. Unlimited 24/7 access to phone counseling with certified professionals through its ComPsych benefits program is now offered to over 4,000 athletes. Additionally, Intel is supporting Team USA athletes by providing hundreds of resources for focus, sleep, movement and more, including content designed for recovery, competition, training and motivation through six months of Headspace Plus.