Positive mental health snowballs under World Champion bobsledder

Positive mental health snowballs under World Champion bobsledder

Lessons in positive mental health are set to snowball at Stockport College following a visit from World Champion bobsledder Nicola Minichiello.

The Great British Olympic athlete was invited to our College on Tuesday 28th January to coach a group of students on becoming mental health champions for their peers.

These students will then go on to share ideas of resilience and coping strategies across all campuses as part of Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Mentally Healthy Colleges initiative.

Nicola, who has taken part in three Winter Olympics and seven World Championships, said: “I work with students on strategies to help their mental health and wellbeing, giving them to the tools and knowledge to manage everyday stressors and difficult situations they face.

“As an elite athlete, managing your emotions and stress is a key part of the overall performance. Both in my 18 years as an international athlete and now in my capacity as a coach, I learned the skills required to turn anxiety into a positive trait and deliver my optimum performance at the right time.”

Joining the Great British bobsleigh team in 2001, helped Nicola recover from the death of her brother, and led to her making history as the first female Great British bobsled driver to win gold in the 2009 FIBT World Championships.

Nicola now coaches and organises events on behalf of the International Federation of Bobsleighing and International Olympic Committee, and flew back from training Under 18s in the Youth Olympic Bobsleigh team in her capacity as mentor on behalf of the Youth Sport Trust.

She said: “Stress and Anxiety are often portrayed as negative qualities and through my experience, through the workshop and through our time together I want to help the students understand that, although life can sometimes be difficult, with the correct coping strategies and by reforming their goals and objectives, they can use these emotions to help them achieve even better outcomes.”

Mental health is at the forefront of education at Stockport College, with pastoral tutors allocated to every student in addition to curriculum teachers as well as access to additional support in terms of counselling, finance and careers guidance.

Head of Studies for Health, Care and Early Years, Lisa Radcliffe, said: “We are proud to have been the first College in Greater Manchester to have been visited by Olympic athlete Nicola Minichiello, and to work alongside her, to become a Mentally Healthy College as part of Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s strategy, was an honour. She is clearly a great coach who really inspired our students with her story of what can be achieved even in the most difficult of circumstances.

“We’re proud to have a fantastic programme of support for students at Stockport College where we want students to succeed not just in their learning, but also by providing these skills for life.”

Nicola will continue to work with our learners championing mental health Natasha Phoenix, Ellie Smith, Nicole Robertson, Maddy Daniels and Lucy Holden throughout the academic year.

Source: bobsleigh team members - Richard Heathcote/Getty Images North America