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By Jacqui Beasley
Rehabilitation Consultant

Dementia affects two-thirds of footballers during their lives, as such training healthy minds has become just as big of a focus as physical fitness. This summer, the world’s elite footballers are all looking for a successful summer at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. How do they ensure they’re mentally prepared for the pitch? Below we’ve compiled a list of mental health techniques that could be replicated by businesses to support the mental wellbeing of their employees.

Keeping on-side

Each player has undergone a thorough physical and psychological training schedule. As with any successful person, footballers use mental health tactics to minimise the risk of long term mental ill health, to ensure that their minds are as healthy as their physical abilities.

The World Cup is a high-pressured environment. The spotlight is on the footballers to achieve their best, so managing the pressure is a top priority. Businesses could learn from footballers, by replicating the following mental health tactics to drive a successful work culture and healthy workforce:

Goal setting

Footballers understand their physical and psychological weak points. They practice specifically on those areas to work towards goals that are achievable, to minimise frustration and disappointment. They manage progress closely to push themselves a little further each time. Goals must be specific, measurable, challenging but attainable, time-based and written down.


Mindfulness studies have shown that meditation helps to improve focus, reduce stress and anxiety, as well as boost health and immune system. Footballers effectively use meditation to focus and remove distractions.


Motivational self-talk helps footballers to boost confidence and be more effective in skill, strength and endurance tasks. This inner voice helps manage the in-built critic, enabling footballers to dramatically enhance their attitude and therefore, their performance.

Mental imagery

Visualising a scenario helps footballers to prepare for a situation before it happens in the real world. Neuroscience studies have shown that imagining can activate parts in our brain, as if we were actually doing that activity, so our reactions to situations can be effectively managed. Many footballers have commented on the power of visualisation. When they walk onto the pitch, they picture success and tell themselves they will win. This helps to prepare their minds to cope with the anxiety and expectations, so they can focus on winning. Psychological positivity enables footballers to perform to their optimum.

Elite athletes take mental health as seriously as fitness training because a healthy mind achieves success and minimises risks of long-term mental health problems, such as dementia. This best practice should be applied more frequently to businesses, providing opportunities to support successful employees.

With a proactive workplace approach to mental health, not only can you achieve the best out of your staff, you can protect them against mental health risks.

QBE Employees

Brain Matters

Businesses can learn more about mental health with QBE’s interactive ‘Brain Matters’ tool, which provides insights to physical and psychological injuries to the body’s most complex organ.

Mental Health Helpline & Headspace App

QBE aims to lead the way in supporting emotional wellbeing at work. We have implemented a mental health helpline which is open to all employees. Staff are also provided free access to Headspace mindfulness app to encourage meditation. Psychological factors can have a significant impact on a person’s success. Developing a programme to effectively manage mental health will enhance the wellbeing of your employees, subsequently your business.

Training & Mental Health First Aiders

All QBE managers have had awareness training and some staff are trined as Mental Health First Aiders. These employees play a supportive role, spotting the signs of mental ill health, listening, assessing risk and encouraging fellow employees seek professional or self-help.

Charity Partner 2018

QBE’s charity partner of the year is the Alzheimer’s Society’s Insurance United Against Dementia, which invests in dementia research and helps businesses to become more dementia-friendly.

By following the techniques used by footballers, employees can effectively deal with high-pressured working environments, anxiety and self-doubt. Businesses can implement a best practice mental health programme to support employee’s healthy minds and spot the signs of long-term mental health problems early to provide maximum support. Investing in the correct training and tools can support businesses and employees to score their own winning goals.

For more information please see the QBE Rehabilitation team's latest thoughts.