Dr James Bell: UK Sport appoint first mental health lead

UK Sport chair Katherine Grainger speaks at a conference
Dame Katherine Grainger, the chair of UK Sport, launched the Mental Health Strategy in October

UK Sport has appointed its first head of mental health as part of measures to help top British athletes deal with mental health issues.

Performance psychologist Dr James Bell will combine the role with his current job as Head of Culture at UK Sport.

The body launched a new mental health strategy last month with the English Institute of Sport (EIS).

It follows a series of athlete welfare scandals involving a host of governing bodies.

Former Olympic cyclist Jess Varnish is suing UK Sport and British Cycling over allegations of discrimination.

Since her allegations, inquiries into duty of care standards have taken place at British Gymnastics, British Cycling, British Swimming, British Canoeing, GB Taekwondo and the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association.

It led to UK Sport commissioning the Culture Health Check report that found nearly one in three British Olympic and Paralympic athletes have experienced or witnessed "unacceptable behaviour" in their elite programme.

The report also found nearly a quarter (24%) said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the "measures taken in their sport to optimise the mental health" of high-performance athletes.

As part of the new strategy, UK Sport and the EIS have also set up a four-person expert panel that includes Dr Steve Peters, the Team Sky psychiatrist and former head of medicine at British Cycling.

Professor Alan Currie, Dr Allan Johnston and Dr Amanda Gatherer will join Peters on the panel.