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Degree Breaking Limits Programme Launch Mental Health Training Module with Doc Wayne

World Mental Health Day Special

October 7, 2022 

In honor of World Mental Health Day on October 10, we’re highlighting work being done by our partners to improve mental wellbeing through sport. As part of the Breaking Limits Programme created by Degree – also known as Rexona, Sure or Shield depending on where you are in the world – in partnership with Beyond Sport, Doc Wayne Youth Services has created a new resource. The Mental Wellbeing module will be released on the Breaking Limits Training Series platform this month. Below, Senior Account Manager on the project, Mieke Evans, shares more.

While the global mental health crisis continues, there are more and more reasons to be optimistic. We’ve seen remarkable change on the mental health front; during the last two years, it’s been talked about far more openly and prioritized like no time before. We owe thanks to courageous athletes like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka and other well-knowns who’ve shared their personal mental health challenges and emphasized that we are all human and that it’s okay to not be okay.

This has been instrumental in helping to diminish the stigma it has carried for so long. Further, it’s encouraging to see how many places around the world are implementing programs and legislation to ensure people have access to mental health care, and help secure its warranted place in their healthcare systems. And collaboration among so many, such as community behavioral health organizations, schools, pediatric offices, hospitals and emergency services, is also helping to bring about critical change. 

An excellent example of this is the Breaking Limits Programme, which was created by Degree - also known as Rexona, Sure or Shield - the antiperspirant and deodorant brand that is part of the Unilever family. The programme centers on equipping young people with the confidence and opportunity to move more, particularly those who face the biggest barriers to being active, providing them with critical life skills such as teamwork, resilience and the confidence to break the narrow limits set by society. Degree believes that movement has the power to transform lives and is giving young people access to positive role models, community and a safe space to move. 

To accomplish this, Degree created the Breaking Limits Training Series - a collection of free, digital training modules for coaches, co-created in partnership with Beyond Sport and other leading sport for development NGOs. The Training Series tackles some of the biggest issues holding young people back from moving, such as Gender Equality, Disability Inclusion and Anti-Bias. 

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The series also provides a module that addresses mental well-being. For that, Degree and Beyond Sport reached out to Doc Wayne Youth Services (“Doc Wayne''), an award-winning nonprofit leading the field of sport-based therapy and catalyzing a mental health movement. Based in Boston, Massachusetts with team members worldwide, in addition to sport-based mental health therapy, Doc Wayne provides training, tools and other mental health services to youth development professionals, coaches, mentors and clinicians around the globe. Doc Wayne’s work addresses aspects of emotional, behavioral, traumatic, racial, gender and cultural-based barriers by providing equitable access to better mental health for all. 

For the Mental Wellbeing module within the Breaking Limits Programme, Doc Wayne developed a customized, clinician-led curriculum. It puts movement into practice to empower coaches in the US, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and the UK to integrate the five keys to wellbeing into their work with young people with the aim to build healthier, more resilient global communities. The module is led by Doc Wayne’s Deputy Director Rebekah Roulier, LMHC and Doc Wayne coaches, and includes contributions from a community leader who is an alum of Doc Wayne’s program, and expert Dr. Dan Gould, director of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports and a professor of Kinesiology at Michigan State University. Dr. Gould was named the inaugural Gwendolyn Norrell Professor of Youth Sport and Student-Athlete Well-Being in 2019. 

Shem Otieno, Head of Operations for Far East Basketball Association (F.E.B.A.), said: "Movement is an excellent catalyst for promoting well-being. The benefit of sport for our youth is physical and mental. Youth can build resilience and confidence that benefits them beyond the game. Our basketball coaches are trained in mental health and well-being. The training equips them to facilitate positive change in kids." 

The module is designed for participants to develop confidence in leveraging movement-based, inclusive programming to foster and increase youth mental well-being. It also educates coaches, mentors and leaders on the basics of mental well-being and explores coaching methodologies that support the creation of safe spaces. Participants also learn a variety of strategies to implement in their existing programming as well as movement-based activities to engage youth in a space that develops key mental well-being and resilience skills. 

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Curated towards coaches, mentors and leaders who work with a diverse range of ages, sports and ability levels, the module is intended to aid those incorporating mental well-being into their programming for the first time and as an additional skills builder for those with prior experience. However, no prior experience with mental well-being is necessary to participate. 

The key outcomes include: 

  • A baseline understanding of mental well-being with youth athletes. 
  • The importance of coaches as leaders in addressing mental well-being in sports. 
  • Techniques and skills to utilize in practices and games with your players. 
  • Increased awareness of what promotes well-being for youth athletes

The training also features videos of Doc Wayne activities and games in action among programs that take place in Boston and Kenya, and youth participants that share their own versions of what well-being means to them. It concludes with an inspirational closing delivered by Natisha Hiedeman, an American professional basketball player with the Connecticut Sun of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), a wonderful friend and supporter of Doc Wayne. 

Hiedeman said: “Sport is an ideal setting for wider interventions because it can be fun, engaging and motivating — and instrumental in ensuring kids keep coming back. And sports environments are often safe spaces, with safe people.  Importantly, coaches, who are typically looked up to, often get to know their players not only as athletes but as people with lives and challenges off the field too. For this reason, with some training on fundamental and trauma-informed mental health skills, they are extremely well-positioned, and more confident, to identify issues and take action to help their athletes get the support they need.” 

The Mental Wellbeing module within the Breaking Limits Programme will be released this month on the Breaking Limits Training Series platform. The training site is completely free to access and use, all you need to do is register to gain access to the content. Click here to visit the US Breaking Limits Training Series platform:


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