Olympic Dressage Rider Allison Brock Named to US Olympic & Paralympic Mental Health Task Force

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Allison Brock. File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, April 3, 2020–Allison Brock, 2016 Olympic dressage rider, has been named to the newly created U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee Mental Health Task Force to develop recommendations and resources to deal with athlete mental health and well-being.

The 13-member task force will address mental health concerns and promote sustained and holistic well-being of athletes, coaches, officials and administrators throughout the complete athlete journey. The task force will develop best practices, resources and action plans to support the mental health needs of Team USA athletes before, during and after competition, and advise USOPC staff who frequently engage with athletes, on and off the field of play.

The task force announced by USOPC Friday includes:

-Allison Brock, 40 years old, of Wellington, Florida, rode Rosevelt on the bronze medal team at the 2016 Olympics;
-Eileen Carey, director of U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing;
-Shannon Decker, executive director and co-founder of The Speedy Foundation;
-Rachael Flatt, Olympian – figure skating;
-Kensa Gunter, Psychologist and certified mental performance consultant for the USOPC’s Sport Psychology Registry;
-Stanley Herring, clinical professor in the departments of rehabilitation medicine, orthopedics, sports medicine and neurological surgery at the University of Washington;
-Adam Krikorian, head coach of U.S. Olympic Women’s Water Polo Team;
-Chris Murphy, Paralympian – cycling;
-Theresa Nguyen, chief program officer of Mental Health America;
-William Parham, Professor in counseling and interim associate dean of faculty at Loyola Marymount University and director of the mental health and wellness program for the National Basketball Players Association;
-Keenan Robinson, sports medicine and science director at USA Swimming;
-Allison Schmitt, Olympian – swimming, and
-Victor Schwartz, psychiatrist and chief medical officer of The Jed Foundation.

“We are acutely aware of the mental health concerns facing our athletes, heightened by the current environment in the Olympic and Paralympic community, and are fully dedicated to being an active leader in providing support and resources to help athletes navigate the pressures, and at times, uncertainty, of their careers,” said Dr. Jonathan Finnoff, USOPC chief medical officer.

“The goal of the task force is to ensure athletes, and the staff who are entrusted with their care, are well-informed and prepared to recognize and respond to individuals in need, both before and once mental health concerns arise.”

The task force will be responsible for advising and collaborating with an internal USOPC mental health working group to ensure appropriate structures and systems are in place to promote a culture in which seeking and delivering mental health support is encouraged throughout the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic community.

The USOPC will also activate mental health officers, who were originally scheduled to support Team USA athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games that were set to be held in Tokyo this summer. With the postponement of the Games to 2021, the USOPC is activating the officers to lead discussions around mental health and wellness for athletes and staff, and with input from the internal and external USOPC mental health working groups, assist with developing the long-term mental health program for the USOPC. They will also be members of the Games staff moving forward as planned.

To help athletes and their immediate families cope with the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), USOPC extended its ComPsych benefits program to all Team USA athletes, which provides unlimited round the clock access to phone counseling with certified professionals, and other resources such as emotional and wellness support, financial and legal guidance, and more.