SVG Europe Wellbeing Fund launched to serve the sports broadcasting community’s mental health needs

SVG Europe has launched the Wellbeing Fund, a new initiative that will provide financial aid for people working in European sports broadcasting and production who require mental health support, therapy or counselling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fund, underwritten by Sony Professional Solutions Europe, will provide up to €400 per person towards the cost of psychological wellbeing services.

Studies carried out this year back up the need for better mental healthcare; in the UK, 11% of people said the pandemic had a hugely negative impact on their mental health, while a further 33% said it had a fairly negative impact on mental health [You Gov, October 2020].

“It could not come at a more opportune time. The increase in demand for mental health services across Europe has come as an unwelcome byproduct of the pandemic.”

In August, as lockdown restrictions were being eased in the UK, 45% of the population still said they had felt anxious or worried in the previous two weeks, while one in five were lonely, and 27% of unemployed people said they were not coping well [You Gov, August 2020].

Meanwhile, at the end of June this year, one in 10 people in the UK reported suicidal thoughts and feelings over the previous two weeks [Mental Health Foundation].

“SVG Europe is proud to be able to launch the Wellbeing Fund with the backing of Sony,” says Joe Hosken, SVG Europe general manager. “It could not come at a more opportune time. The increase in demand for mental health services across Europe has come as an unwelcome byproduct of the pandemic. With Sony’s help, SVG Europe can now play its part in supporting the mental health of the sports production community.”

Mental health pressures

Like many industries, the sports production business has had to reinvent itself and find new ways to cover sport remotely. The pressure to do this has been immense as televised sport has been a panacea for the general public in lockdown times.

Sarah Hosken, chartered psychologist, counselling psychologist and consultant on the development of the Wellbeing Fund, comments: “This pandemic put an immense pressure on those involved in delivering sports. This fund will help some of those who have struggled with mental health pressures during these times in supplying and supporting what for many is a public service. SVG Europe has cut through a swathe of administrative tape and has targeted a specific population of people, spread over Europe, who may otherwise struggle to access counselling.”

On the sort of mental pressures people may find themselves under right now, Sarah Hosken comments: “Life in the pandemic is about many stories running simultaneously, each creating its own mental pressure, as people continue their search for meaning in ever-changing landscapes.

“For some people, lockdown represents growth. Social media amplifies images of people flourishing: enjoying new hobbies, running, cycling, yoga, walking, baking. For others this creates peer pressure within a clear hierarchy,” she continues. “There is a contradictory vision of our worlds being safe or unsafe, with risk or less risk; economic, employment, financial, cultural, health and social status seeming to determine how we engage with the virus.”

“The question then becomes how we look after our wellbeing to increase resilience and reduce the risk of greater mental health issues arising either now or in the future. What can we do right now to look after our mental health?”

“That said, we all have mental health and each of us responds differently to different situations,” Hosken notes. “Mental health professionals are witnessing an influx of clients whose pre-existing and new mental health experience is being daily amplified by issues such as anxiety, low mood, bereavement, loneliness, trauma and physical health.”

As to why maintaining our mental health at this time in the pandemic particularly important, Hosken says: “Maintaining our wellbeing is vital to help us build a greater resilience, gain different coping skills and open ourselves to new learnings all round, to help us better manage the challenges of the new world where layers of meaning are continually being changed and challenged.

“We are being challenged daily to update our understandings of the world, to adapt to new ways of relating, living and working with ourselves and others. We are asked to change lifetime habits: wear a mask, work from home, no holidays, no face-to-face visits with family and friends, and more. The question then becomes how we look after our wellbeing to increase resilience and reduce the risk of greater mental health issues arising either now or in the future. What can we do right now to look after our mental health?”

Why turn to counselling?

Hosken comments on why counselling may help: “There can be times in life when we feel stuck and former coping mechanisms don’t quite cut it. Counselling is a valuable resource for those times that offers space to process what is meaningful in your life and the world around you in different ways to enjoy greater wellbeing.”

“A benefit of counselling is the provision of a confidential space for you to explore what is happening in your life, to grow new perspectives, to process blocked information and gain a clearer sense of your issues,” she adds. “Some people like to gain a clearer picture of their inner worlds and understand what triggers issues such as anxiety and low mood. Others may want to focus more upon tools and techniques for calming uncomfortable feelings and less upon insights into the mind. By working in a collaborative, ethical, non-judgemental, supportive way and respecting you and the way in which you would like to work, counselling can help you to step into the life you want to live.”

However, Hosken states that counselling is not necessarily the route to take for everyone: “Everyone experiences wellbeing differently at different times in their lives. Counselling represents a choice to work with your wellbeing in a specific way. Some people describe a hobby or a sport as their therapy that makes them feel good and, if that works, brilliant.”

Yet she continues: “As a psychologist working with many different people and issues over the years, I am continually amazed by the transformative power of change for the better that I witness take place in clients on their healing journey. There is something immensely powerful about setting the intention to heal and working together towards the intention. From personal experience and from many clients’ perspectives, the first step can be the hardest and for some, the most difficult challenge they have ever faced, yet it mostly does not take long before tangible shifts in well-being take place.”

Ken Kerschbaumer, SVG Europe editorial director and SVG Europe Sports Broadcasting Fund director, concludes: “The Fund is a response to the deepening COVID-19 pandemic which is causing emotional strain for those who are still able to work, those who have been made redundant, or those who simply cannot work because an underlying condition makes them vulnerable to serious complications if they fall ill with COVID-19. We hope that it can help as many people within our community who need it as possible.”

How to apply for funding

To apply for funding, applicants will need to go through a three-step process:

  • Find a qualified mental health professional using the website for EuroPsy (or European Certificate in Psychology), a European standard of education, professional training and competence in psychology set by the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA). There is a register of EuroPsy psychologists with national listings of certificate holders that can be consulted by any person or organisation seeking the services of a qualified psychologist and the registry can be accessed here.
  • Schedule your appointment as necessary and fill out an online application form. Applicants are asked to provide the name and contact information of a co-worker or supervisor who can verify your position in the industry.
  • Once the application has been received, a representative from the Wellbeing Fund will be in touch to arrange for reimbursement of up to €400 worth of visits.
  • The applicant’s name and identity will remain private throughout the process and personal information will only be made available to the person on the Wellbeing Fund team who receives the application and the Fund manager who will contact the applicant for Fund distribution processing.

For more information, contact Joe Hosken or Ken Kerschbaumer.


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