E67 - Mental Health Awareness Week Special with Heather Lewis
E67 - Mental Health Awareness Week Special with Heather Lewis

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This year's Mental Health Awareness Week is themed around movement, including sport and this week we have a special episode with Heather Lewis, project manager at the Mental Health Foundation. Alongside her work, Heather has a specific academic interest in elite sport, having completed a Master's at St. Mary's Twickenham on mental health within a Rugby World Cup context.

The Mental Health Foundation is there for people of all faiths and none, this conversation includes Heather's reflections on her personal faith and how that plays out in her work, sport and research.

Find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week

0:00 Intro and Heather's bio
2:34 What is Mental Health Awareness Week all about?
4:28 Moving more for mental health
6:23 How did Heather come to work at the Mental Health Foundation?
7:57 Why amateur sport can be so good for mental health
12:14 How Heather's faith shapes her approach to work
13:55 Researching mental health in elite sport
16:52 What was surprising in your research?
18:53 The tension between performance requirements and player care
22:53 Key recommendations for performance
26:34 What was the response to your research?
28:50 How will your faith shape your actions based on your findings?
30:28 What Heather learnt from years as a chaplain in elite sport
32:38 What do you do now with elite athletes as a lifestyle advisor?
35:46 How can we learn from this in amateur sport
38:19 How does your faith shape what you long to see in your work?
39:43 Outro


Transcript generated by AI - A more accurate version will be available soon

Graham Daniels: My guest today is Lewis, who is project manager for the Mental Health Foundation. But she's a guest, so this particular focus is on sports. and, let me get you moving by asking you about Mental Health Awareness Week, because what in it. And that's what we're podcasting. Theme is fascinating movement moving more from mental health. Tell us a bit about what's going on this week.

Heather Lewis: Yeah it's really exciting. So the Mental Health Foundation is the home of Mental Health Awareness Week every year. And we set the theme so last year as anxiety this year's movement. And it's just a really fun one because we're encouraging everyone to move more for their mental health. So there's loads of different activities taking place and like public spaces through to sports stadiums and and the Houses of Parliament as well.

Graham Daniels: Just getting people thinking about what kind of movement good for whatever level. And how's that going to help support good mental health. And that's questions, because in contemporary society I've got no data on this, but that you to people are so much will start to those of us who are in the professional world that you're in, this was I never thought about the fact that if you don't move as much, it is just not good for you.

what's underpinning those changes in society?

Heather Lewis:Yeah. So the chief medical officer says we should all be moving 150 minutes per week for our physical health, but then it also helps our mental health. And we know that people aren't generally hitting that. And I guess yeah, I mean, there's a real impact with our jobs, like you say, kind of being sedentary. but also so for us, we work particularly with people who are more risk of poor mental health. So people seeking sanctuary, refugees and asylum seekers, if you're on limited access to, say, 30 something pounds a week, and then trying to get a gym membership or travel to do sport that's really hard, or people who are, perhaps care experienced young people, you know, we work a lot with them.

How do they access sport and movement, people living in inner cities? Is it safe to go out to certain places to move? So there's so many barriers with certain areas of the population on top of that are more sedentary lifestyles.

Graham Daniels: Fascinating job Heather. You have to because sure, it will be coming on to look what you've done in terms of research with the World Cup. Coaches and players, in fact, which is the sharp top end of sport. At the same time, with this Mental Health Awareness Week, we're really talking about the Disenfranchized people. Disenfranchized disempowered. Yeah, yeah. Pivotal theme of the work of the foundation.

Heather Lewis: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. We're all about prevention and all about trying to work with areas of the population who would be more at risk of poor mental health. And then it's interesting for me then, because even though we don't work with elite athletes, I'm kind of looking at it at that angle and also including, well, perhaps if you're an elite football player, your movement might not be great for your mental health in football all the time. So therefore, what is it? Is it walking the dog, Golf, Yoga. Does that make sense?

Graham Daniels: I see what you're saying. Because your day job, when you're an elite female or male athlete, is fundamentally determined by your fitness. Yeah, but actually that can bring more stress. Yeah. It's gosh, what do you recommend to people will come onto the game. Give me the advice. Never would come on to the work you've done in this sport.

Yeah. Can we delve into that? What do you say to the coffee about movement that.

Heather Lewis: Yeah, I guess it's it's helping them to recognize. I mean, they'll know. You ask them a question. Yes or no. Is it good for your mental health? You know, nine times out of ten that what we're going to say? Yes, it is, but they probably are thinking, oh, I just did the bleep test today or I just did Broncos or I you know I'm they're struggling to think about that.

So then it's going okay. Well when was the last time you enjoyed movement. And it probably was. Oh when I was playing I don't know pickleball or I was doing this that or the other or take the backroom staff, you talk to them and if they're up say they're in a competition or a camp, they're up at six.

They're, you know, everyone wants them all the time to fix stuff that treats and treats and treats and through the end of the day, so they'll say, I've got to get my half an hour walk in or my gym session or my movement at the start of the day, because that helps up my physical and mental health. So it's basically just asking them draw an out of them and then passing that gold dust on to other people.

Graham Daniels: Fascinating: What got you this job?

Heather Lewis: I mean, this is this is something I did to get started. So I've always grown up playing sport, being in a family that love sport. and then I'm a youth worker by background. So that's what I did as my first degree. And then I worked in what was called a boys behavioral school.

You wouldn't call it that now. but I, I loved it, like I had rocks thrown at my hat. And one day my car wouldn't start, and the boys were, like, so tame as we can, we can jump start your car for you, and we know how to hotwire. And like, I just loved it. what's funny is my dad was a school police officer.

So that, you know, I didn't really want them to know about that, but they did. Thankfully, he had a good reputation, so I was like, how do I, in respect with these boys? Because I'm a woman at the time in my mid-twenties. And and so I play netball and I'm, you know, not brilliant, but the fact that I could get a ball in through the basketball net without touching the backboard, they were like, oh, we respect you.

So I think early on I began to understand the power of sport. So the sport development space, does that make sense?

Graham Daniels: Yeah. So young in that what's your next step to that?

Heather Lewis: Yeah. So after that I went and did like a youth pastoral in churches. And again, you sport all the time and actually had to work harder at connecting with the young people.

That sport wasn't their passion. so I did that. So there was still that kind of care, pastoral investing in people, you know, in, in that situation as well. and, and from that then spent some time working at Christians in sport, which really then helped to pull things together, particularly from my elite and of, of understanding elite sport.

A little bit more and, and an opportunity then to go and do some chaplaincy through that. Yeah. And that's quite strict, reasonably. You've developed is it almost simultaneously with the increasing awareness of the relationship between physical, being and running, in particular, the development of understanding of the lack of mental health in this country with that.

Graham Daniels: That's fair. Yeah. Simultaneously. yeah. When you first become aware of the mental health of people's lives as a, as a young youth worker.

Heather Lewis: I think probably when I was 18, even I worked at an inner city school in Newport, and seeing some of the children, the young people stay within year seven, 11, 12 coming in and just all of the things that were going on in their home life and then the struggle.

So how are they going to sit down and do this balance and maths, etc., when they were just had low mood, when they were anxious, when they hadn't eaten that morning, you know, all of that kind of thing. I think that's probably when I first had my eyes opened to kind of poor mental health, really. And then the more I understood about professional sport, I guess, and then began to see similar kind of, you know, high anxiety levels or low mood or in that world.

And then the more I've studied and understood, I'm like, you know, physical health, mental health that intertwined. And there are things we can do to prevent poor mental health, but it's really important and it matters. And yeah, how can I play my role in it?

Graham Daniels: So at the moment, you've given us an insight into young boys at school, difficult situations. Michael, the rock in your head, how they that, then you work at the very, very top end of elite sport, particularly in rugby. Let's talk about those people in the middle, because there are a lot of people listening to our podcast.

yes. You describe yourself for netball, keen Sports on a train a couple of times. Play once a week. I'm working on The Apprentice. That is very nice balance. generally speaking, with mental good health, if you're in that environment.

Heather Lewis: Yeah, I, I think that that kind of, you know, if you can be playing sport and in the community and it's regular and you've got people around you that you build relationship with and a trusted and you have the social aspect.

There's so many good factors for good mental health. So it's like you're doing one thing, but benefiting from 4 or 5 things at once a month. For us. Yeah, pretty much all of us do that. Don't really start talking planning because we don't since we're kids. Yeah. And those benefits are obvious. Yeah, yeah. So we know as a mental health foundation we've gone through because there's so many top tips out there for mental health.

So we've done this kind of research piece. What are the evidence base top tips. And so some of them would be being around people, being sociable or being in that kind of community where you're known and you're interacting with people so that that is good for our mental health, that social connectedness. and then, you know, that movement and physical activity is good.

And if it's outside as well, nature benefits our mental health, too. so that's that's even better. and then I guess if you're volunteering in a club or that kind of role, kindness and being kind of supportive of others, we know evidence based is good for your mental health. And then learning something new is also good for your mental health.

Graham Daniels: So if you can get a week where you're doing those things, learning neutral, being around people, helping out those kinds of things that all good for you for your mental health. Let's touch on on your own Christian faith. as a professional association, as each of us is, from your own perspective, you, your life, one Christian faith. How would you say that that was a bearing or perspective of what you do? That that physical mental health of disease?

Heather Lewis: Yeah, it's really interesting because I think a lot of times when I read things or I'm delivering training to people, so often, you know, for me, as a Christian, the the Bible is, is the book. I believe it's God's word that kind of tells me who he is, who he's made me to be, how the world kind of functions.

And it will pop into my mind like, oh yeah, the Bible talks about that kind of aspect, like being kind towards one another, or the Bible talks about, you know, it talks about our emotions in so many ways. And so I find that really interesting and really encouraging as well, that I see that I see the, the science and the evidence base.

But then I see that in my faith and understanding who I believe God is and and who he's made me to be and how I relate to people in that. yeah. Does that make sense?

Graham Daniels: We'll start with that. We'll be able to, so I think it's a great encouragement as you articulate that you in seeing particularly through your research as well as your experience, evidence to the premise of what God says in the Bible is a good practice for what you experience in everyday life. Yeah, yeah. Let's turn that then to the elite side. Hmhm master's degree and master's research fascinates me, and I think for those listening to us, it would be quite an insight. Is it tied to the lived experience, mental health within the rugby world? Yeah. How do you go on with any other second thoughts? We might not be quite so competitive this, this is people who are actually involved in Rugby World Cups. Men for women. Who are the recipients or participants in your research before we delve into the hmhm, you found it. Give us a feel for the kind of people who participants. Yeah. So I was able to talk to participants from ten different countries. And I was able to talk to tier one nations and tier two nations, and which is really helpful because tier two nations, they would have less resource, other kind of challenges as well.

Heather Lewis: So yeah. So that was really helpful. And like you say, I was able to talk to men and women. And what I was very thankful for was that people who didn't make it to the Rugby World Cup were willing to talk to me. So people who had done that whole probably for some of them, nearly a four year cycle, they'd been in the pre training camp and then they didn't make the cut for the last I think it's 35. to then to then go to the Rugby World Cup. So there was a real mix on there were players and then also a handful of backroom staff as well, who were, you know, various kind of same medical roles or. yeah. Like analysts or, you know, those kinds of roles, but not had coaches, didn't speak to them.

Graham Daniels: And, just one more feeling to some depth on this. Well, what give us a of 1 or 2 of the questions that you give us the open ended questions and helped you to collect evidence from these range?

Heather Lewis: Yeah, they were they were really simple questions that gave us absolute gold dust because people just were willing to open up and they, you know, I asked, okay, what what is most helpful for your mental health in the Rugby World Cup competition itself?

Context off the go. And then I'm able to to adapt and ask other questions. And then for example, what are the most vulnerable times or circumstance is for you as a player, physio or whatever during a Rugby World Cup context, what advice would you give to a future exiles at. So yeah, those were some of the questions.

Graham Daniels: Yeah, I get the privilege of reading some of it. the way that you it seems to be very carefully look at three competition during competition and post competition abroad. What surprised you the most? because you don't know what you can get. But you ask these questions. You don't know what themes or what surprised you the most as a as a person.

Heather Lewis: I think from the kind of social perspective that people who I'd never met before were willing to open up and to talk about their lived experience.

and this bit didn't surprise me because they're very generous and wanting others to learn from their lived experience. But but therefore that they were like, if this can help one person, if what I share can do this and so they were yeah, just so open. And of course, I don't know them to know if they told me everything.

Probably not. But their openness really surprised me. And I like the fact that you are optimist by nature. Like, yeah, always kind of, and that's it. I was a lovely comment about positivity, past experience and the difficulties of mental health that you can observe.

Graham Daniels: And, is there anything that actually weren't expecting about the difficulties that these problems staff and players face?

I think probably the, the lack of resource. So, one level that didn't surprise me because of roles I've done before, but in some circumstance, this there was a real lack of resource to even have a conversation about mental health amongst some kind of, communities. And that varied from different to different kind of countries and setups.

but yeah, that just felt left me feeling a bit sad, I guess, because I was like, oh, this is simple. There are some simple fixes potentially here.

Graham Daniels: so yeah, in professional football. lots of the data continues to show. So it's football. that sports psychology, is still underrepresented in the game. Still. And secondly, there remains a tension point between the performance, requirements of the sport psych, which is that, to get a performance right on the weekend as it were, worked for probably 30 years now as being a chaplaincy role. you perform both. Well, you shouldn't be the chaplain. I mean, you know, there's a sports psyche that was a researcher in that. Yeah. Being you're talking to that first, a little bit, how that works in psychology.

Heather Lewis Yeah: Yeah, exactly. That emerged as, as, you know, from, from your experience that there is a tension between what a player needs when it comes to their mental health and wellbeing and then what can be offered through a sport.

Psych. And now that's not the case. It really varies from country to country. So some countries that, won't have a sport psych full time, let alone that mental health and wellbeing or chaplaincy or whatever. And then some will have sport psych who, as you say, are there for your performance, but then there can be a lack of, can I can I talk, can I be vulnerable about my mental health and wellbeing?

Because will that then impact upon my performance? And what role is this person playing for me and again, depending on the level of sport. So some players would talk about or in my club as opposed to like my country, you know, I'm just not sure that it would all be entirely confidential, because ultimately psychology is there to help me with my kicking or my performance or whatever.

So there's that. Like where? Where will this information go and how will I be perceived? So there's that vulnerability already in a heightened experience. But conversely, some people talked very encouraged, you know, with great encouragement about good mental health and wellbeing support. And so it's really important to acknowledge that and not paint all this bleak and bad you know.

Graham Daniels: So how would you know in hindsight, some of these research, at its best that the differentiation between a sports chaplain or, or the wellbeing officer. Lots of synonyms for this. Yeah. There are secular versions. Yeah. Yeah. Christian. religious version. Yeah. Because those chaplaincy that, this, that, these things coordinate the care.

Heather Lewis: So within the various different kind of systems around them that coordination. Yeah. Yeah I guess it's clarity isn't it.

Like this is who I am. This is my role. This is, stay in my lane. this is my. I'm confidential here, and this person takes care of that. And I think clarity just brings greater trust. And it enables somebody to know, okay, I'm talking to you about this thing and not necessarily that. And that's what, you know, someone said to me in their research was like, I have got so many competing voices coming into me that I don't need another voice.

So I think that clarity of role and, and I guess it comes all the way back to a policy level, doesn't it? From a start up is, okay, how have we got all bases covered here. Sports like nutrition as and say strength and conditioning and etc.. So all the way back from a policy perspective you then got that clarity resource etc. ready for then when that player coaches in that environment it's good to go.

Does that make sense?

Graham Daniels: So let's look at some recommendations. But you get the opportunity now. In your professional life to speak to pretty important bodies. bodies of sport players unions into government. Is. If you are to highlight 2 or 3 of the key recommendations that you would be making and have made from your book, what do you say to people in that the player and the backroom staff, whoever that participant is in the Rugby World Cup, contacts that their voice and their lived experience is is the most important.

Heather Lewis: So allowing that voice to speak and to influence change is really important. People need to do that. so even throughout, these findings of the last part of our conversation, I hope they're interesting to our listeners, because it really is could be says this. All right. What's going to happen for the players voice, in the coaches voice or the back and forth to be heard?

Why is it I guess because in elite sport there is that vulnerability of being honest. I if you talk about mental health, there's still some stigma attached to it, isn't there? In the general public population, let alone then in an elite sport environment. so there's that challenge of kind of as being vulnerable and talking about how you're doing.

So that's kind of a barrier. I guess the high turnover of, of players and, and again, the staff around them, I guess there's cultural differences, language differences, etc.. that can make it really varies between which nation you're representing. So therefore, I think one of the most helpful things I talked about my research was what's being done around concussion.

Well, if that can get done, you know, from a policy level all the way through and owned and resourced financially. So it doesn't matter what nation you're representing. This is the standard. This is what we're dealing with. It empowers people then because the systems are in place to make sure that it's done well. So therefore if there is that co-production of the of the voices and the systems coming together, I think that can really influence.

Graham Daniels: So in order to those policy very the knowledge because even people now know that there's a very robust policy for concussion. across the board. your report, your, your book. 14 now it gives a list of some of the people, players associations governing host nations, policy creators, to pretty influential people. so what do you think?

Heather Lewis: Yeah, I guess it's celebrating what's already been done well, in the Rugby World Cup context. And then, acknowledging that and saying, okay, what can what can be learned from what's been done? Well, in the light of and here's what I've heard from, from these individuals and what they're endorsing is good. Then where are the gaps. So how can we how can we take what's being done well, learn from what is being said and kind of merge those, those together.

and I think that if you get the insight of, of a person who says what, what my lived experience is, my reality is not what that matches up with how things are portrayed. That's quite powerful, isn't it, to say, I need we need this help, we need this support, etc. to give you the answer, this,

Graham Daniels: What's the response? Like? We're on a scale. I'm not talking responses. Yeah, yeah. the board you represent to to see this, we're going to fix it. Yeah. You you're getting if you're able to tell.

Heather Lewis: Yeah this is all so new, I only graduated a couple of weeks ago. but when I have spoken to people who are in a similar field to me, especially people, you know, that overlap and Venn diagram of they've been a professional rugby player and then are working in academics or they're working in some kind of policy while they're like, hello, this is called us.

We want to help you. We want to get this out there. And I don't think I realized how how rich. And I knew it was I went after this research because I knew it hadn't been done before. So that's been really encouraging. And those people have been so generous and and linking me in with other people. And what has been really encouraging that's come back is, oh, you've spoken to ten different nationalities, so is only a small pool of people, but we're not just talking about, say, the Six Nations teams anymore or just the Southern hemisphere.

So that is then given me more kudos in that space for them to listen and go, okay, let's see what we can do with this. And is that potential to then build on it? I'll take time to see what action comes, because, you know, you've got to see if that action kind of matches that investment. But it looks quite encouraging so far.

Graham Daniels: Gosh, I know, feels like there's quite a weight on your shoulders. Yeah, yeah yeah. Because, when you do research like this. Yes. What's hard very few people could get to speak to these players and backroom staff. so it's very hard to get the data. And even if you can't speak to them, they don't trust you.

Yeah. You're not going to get the full story from them. Yeah. You've managed to do that. Yeah. So that alignment with people have played the game come from stuff from the get I don't know governing body language as well. seriously that's quite a demanding I mean this is pioneering research. Yeah. You could advance this because you've gotta make policy and you've got to keep driving the research data.

How are you going to do that?

Heather Lewis: I guess, like, I guess coming back, coming back to the, the faith aspect of this, I think as a Christian, knowing and believing that God's made me that he's given me gifts, that he's given me a support network around me and people that would cheerlead me, hold me to account, support me, pray for me, help me.

That's a huge encouragement to me. And this work. this is like when I think, was it 2000 and maybe 16 or something was when I started doing chaplaincy work? This is not quick. Everything takes time. It's perseverance. It's knock backs. It's being dropped. Even as a chaplain, you know, all of all of these things that you just have to trust the process and trust, like, for me, trust in God's faithfulness.

and and seeing him bring things to fruition over time as well. So not expecting quick wins. And then I think finally having the voices of those people who I spoke to, you know, such a privilege, them saying if this can help one person, if this can do this, that reminds me and, and many of them have given me permission to keep them in the loop about where this goes.

So being able to drop them a message and say, hey, actually this has got beyond my masters where three people right up to I'm now having these meetings. That also helps me to keep going because I want to advocate on on that behalf. Yeah.

Graham Daniels: But it's a tremendous vision. This, I quite like to dig in a little bit to your autobiography. there, Okay. Brackets. We may or may not use it. Okay, I or not, but inevitably when you say, gosh, eight years work and that’s building on your previous life experience. Yeah, yeah. Eight years since you went to be chaplain to the Welsh Women’s rugby team. Yeah, yeah. Walk through it a bit more detail your lived experience of this window of 8 years can do this, talk us through that window in a bit more detail.

Heather Lewis: Yeah. So I did that chaplaincy role in two parts. because there was a turnover of, of coaches and different things. And, you know what I let sports like, and so that there was that and then coming away from that and thinking, okay, how can I play a role beyond this?

and so I went and trained myself up as an elite athlete, elite athlete, lifestyle advisor. and I did a course at Saint Mary's Twickenham with that. And, you know, when you're in a room and you're learning theory and you're like, this is what I've been doing, this is me. This is what I love to do. You know, that was so exciting.

and so only break in voluntarily with a handful of people and supporting them in that role, and then transitioning then to the Mental Health Foundation and being in in those rooms and learning from those people. and then just having a brilliant line manager that talked me into what I thought was a module and mentoring. And then I ended up doing a master's, and again, people along the way who've then given me, you know, said, this is how we know who we trust it.

Would you would you help her with your research? People? You know, they call it a snowball effect in research. So once I've spoken to one person in that I. All right. She's okay. They would then say or speak to this personal that person. So I guess as I reflect on what you just asked, it's it's a process of time of, of kind and generous people supporting, encouraging and helping me and me learning along the way.

I make mistakes too. But as I go,

Graham Daniels: And then when you sit down with elite athletes face to face. How do you get them talking? What are they talking about? Unpack for us. What is a woman, like, really be going through the process and understanding. I hope you have it.

Heather Lewis: Yeah, I guess it comes back down to trying to build trust and having integrity and being clear on who you are and what your role is.

You know, that's really helpful and it takes time. And Sharon, appropriately, part of you know yourself and and who you are so that you are building that relationship because it's it's all about power. And so that can be a real power dynamic then. And actually in that role, there isn't a power dynamic. And I think that really helps as well.

I'm not there to select that person de-select them or anything. I'm separate. So that make that clear helps. And I think then you then get people being honest and over time and saying, okay, I'm really struggling actually with the the pressure from not just the, the coach or, you know, the other, the other team members, but the expectation perhaps from my family or, you know, from my friends and, they've, they've given up so much to support me in this situation and I haven't been on the socials.

I miss my friends 21st, I miss my friends 30th, and then I haven't even made the squad to get on the plane to go. So there's there's those kinds of things, you know, and it's, it's it's listening and supporting and encouraging them and where necessary then signposting on when you know, that isn't my back as a lifestyle advisor, I'm going to signpost you to this person who I trust.

And we know that does good work as well.

Graham Daniels: I'm assuming this is a these are long term relationships often. Yeah. You're not selected to go on the side of the person not selected on some of the other things that the person didn't make the cut. You tend to stay positive. And how do you stay on the to how do you make those decisions or sometimes injured us to retire.

Is there is a full methodology. You me working alongside them still.

Heather Lewis: Yeah I, I guess it's it's on their terms and it's kind of saying I'm here to support you. I think something that I try and really make clear is I want to be the one person in your life that there's no expectation that if you don't reply to my WhatsApp for four weeks, that's okay, because there is this, like, what do I where, where do I go?

When should I be media, all that stuff. And so I don't want to be another one of those people as I think that really helps as well, that they can just pick up with you in six months time and, and catch up from where you were. And for some people, you might not hear from them again because they just wanted one catch up, one walk.

They didn't want anyone to know about it. and for others, you know, it's it's years and years of just touching base and catching up, which is a real privilege. Yeah.

Graham Daniels: Thinking about the next thing I know, your research doesn't talk to the coaches. Good enough. I'm going to posit something for you. if you're a coach of a competitive sports team, not elite. Yeah. So pressure that elite sport brings international sport. Isn't that, that discusses degree of pressure of leadership on a squad of people.

Yeah. People have to be getting just, when it comes to anything chances, you know, like to be on the names. If I put mentor what might you be saying to a coach. To give them the best chance. of serving on team.

Heather Lewis: Yeah. Really good. I've been thinking about this recently with a resource we've been writing and actually.

So first of all for the coach themself, have they got people that support them around them and they think about their mental health and wellbeing if they got trusted people? I think secondly, again, clarity and communication. So is there a way that you announce the squad consistently all the time, and do you know your resource in your capacity for then following up?

Because if that's clear, when the pressure's off pre-season. Hey everyone. This is how I announce my squads. This is the amount of time I have. People are forewarned. It's not. It's not then reactive. It's proactive. Does that make sense? So like one of the things I heard back was like plays. And one week we found out via WhatsApp.

The next week we had a meeting and it was just really hard to know. So I think that communication, peace and clarity is is mega helpful. Then if you have the luxury is getting to know your players as individuals and how different they are. So an exercise I did when I was with them with one under 18 squad, I was given such trust by the coach and they allowed me to do a session and I just did a one pager infographic, and one of the questions on it was, when you're feeling stressed because of rugby, what's the most harmful thing to you and what's the least helpful thing to you?

To me, I know the coaches had that at the start of the season. That so we know, you know, everyone's different. For me, I love to talk things out and go for a coffee, but for another person they'll be like, don't talk to me for 24 hours. And so if you know that, you can respond,

Graham Daniels: Well, I heard that after a pretty comprehensive discussion, about your work and your vision, you've mentioned your own faith in passing all the way through, at various points. What's the bedrock relationship between your Christian faith? this vision and vocation and.

Heather Lewis: Yeah, I think my understanding of, of who God is, who he's made me to be, and the way that I can play my part in the work that I do and the relationships I have is really important.

And there's a part, the Bible that talks about speaking up for those who have no voice. So I love that because I see that in both my Mental Health Foundation work, where we get to advocate German Health Awareness Week to millions and millions, but then also when I get to be in rooms supporting coaches to think about those children and young people who've had adverse childhood experiences, how they can be a positive role model through to then still advocating for elite sportspeople who the world might think they've got everything, but actually they can't always advocate for themselves because their voice is under pressure.

So I think that ability, yeah, to live out my faith in that way to advocate is yeah, it's really encouraging and really challenging for me as well.

Graham Daniels: Two things come out of this for me. It seemed to be, well, number one, the quality of the work that you've been privileged to undertake. God willing, there's plenty more work to come. Yeah. Assistance to do things that you work with. to, the incredible grasp of the vocation you've been given as a Christian woman and God given vocation to serve the world needs food.

It's a it's a very lovely thing. It's been a pleasure to be here today.

Heather Lewis: Thank you.

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