A Wylam psychiatrist will be joining a team of clinicians to provide mental health support to Team GB athletes during this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

Alan Currie, who works for the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, was chosen due to his work with the mental health panel of the English Institute of Sport.

So far, he has been working in an advisory role in developing Team GB’s mental health strategy for the Olympics, in which he and two other clinicians will be on call during the competition, as well as a few days before and after.

Alan explained: “There are a number of things we have to prepare for in the lead-up to the Games.”

“There may be athletes who have had mental health problems in the past, so we need to help teams plan and accommodate for that.

“Someone with an existing problem may have a relapse and they’re away from their usual support network, whilst other people might experience a mental health problem for the first time.”

Alan will be providing support remotely rather than travelling to Japan.

On top of a high-pressure environment, athletes will be in isolation when they are not competing in events.

He said: “There’s also the possibility of testing positive for Coronavirus. An athlete might qualify for a final and then have a positive test and is unable to compete.

“We will need to deal with the emotional fallout of that and that a potentially once-in-a-lifetime chance is gone.”

Despite this being the first Olympics where Team GB has had a mental health panel in place, Alan regards Team GB as ahead of the game when it comes to athletes’ mental health, having seen a shift in focus over the last five years – and not every country having such a support system.