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Sport and exercise psychologists from across the world gathered in Belfast this month for the British Psychological Society’s Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology Annual Conference.

Dr Gavin Breslin, researcher in Mental Health in Sport at Ulster University and author of his new book Mental Health Interventions in Sport (Routledge) led the important academic and networking event that attracted speakers from the UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia, India and USA.

Across the theme of “Optimising Performance and Wellbeing”, attendees discovered new and innovative ways to work with athletes, promote physical activity, motor skill acquisition and learn about the most recent psychological research on improving performance whilst also ensuring athlete welfare is given priority. Topics ranged from the use of virtual reality in sport to self-compassion in footballers and much more.

Dr Breslin commented:

“We were delighted to welcome experts from across the world to Belfast to discuss strategies for optimising performance and wellbeing. Mental health is a key priority for Ulster University so the conference was an excellent opportunity to showcase our research in this field and take inspiration from other researchers.

“For the first time ever a consensus statement on psychosocial and policy related approaches to mental health and wellbeing in sport is being developed. I am honoured to take the lead on this project and will be working closely with our global partners to ensure athlete wellbeing is given the attention it deserves; making sure athletes are equipped with the skills to cope in both times of success and disappointment.”

Optimising performance and wellbeing is a key research area for Ulster University’s Institute of Mental Health Sciences (IMHS). Researchers from Ulster University School of Sport, School of Psychology and IMHS delivered presentations and symposia at the conference.