Stars who shone on the athletics track, football field and cricket pitch will join an expert on sports psychology to discuss the impact of sports on mental health, in an online event organised by the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH).   

Mental Health & Sport: The Challenge of Balancing Risk With Reward will feature a panel discussion where participants will share first-hand experiences of the pressures that elite-level sport creates, and the toll it can take amid the trophies, medals and glory. It comes as the importance of maintaining mental well-being is thrown into even sharper focus by the strain that COVID-19 has placed on individuals and societies worldwide.

The panellists brought together by WISH include double Olympic gold medal-winning athlete Dame Kelly Holmes, former Liverpool FC and England footballer Robbie Fowler, ex-Pakistan cricket captain Wasim Akram, and Professor Claudia Reardon, a psychiatrist specialising in sports at the University of Wisconsin and co-chair of the International Olympic Committee’s working group on mental health and elite athletes. The one-hour event, which is free to view, starts at 5 pm (Doha time) this Wednesday, 26 August.

WISH 2020 – the latest edition of WISH’s biannual international health summit and which will take place virtually on 15-19 November – will include a focus on sport and health, as well as on mental health. WISH is a global health initiative of Qatar Foundation.

According to WISH CEO Sultana Afdhal, sport has emerged as a field needing special focus in terms of mental health, with many prominent athletes speaking out about their own battles, both while competing and after retiring.

This virtual discussion provides the perfect opportunity to highlight key issues surrounding sport and mental health ahead of WISH’s November summit.

Fowler – whose 19-year football career included 128 goals in 266 games for Liverpool, and 26 caps for England – has spoken about the challenges that fame poses for young footballers, and of the need for sports stars to be more open about discussing their mental health with teammates.

The mental health of sportsmen and women is an issue that has rightly started to receive a lot more attention recently, so I’m happy to be part of the WISH panel discussion and to hear other people’s opinions on the topic.

Dame Kelly has opened up about her personal mental health struggles and established a charity that uses the skills of world-class athletes to help hard-to-reach young people fulfil their potential. Cricketing legend turned commentator and coach Akram, was captain of the Pakistan national team – often described as one of the most highly-pressurized jobs in sport.

The panel discussion will be moderated by BBC Sport and BBC News presenter Dan Walker. It will be followed by a 30-minute question-and-answer session.

Follow this LINK to register for the event.