A YOUNG Forth Valley woman has called on sports coaches to have training in mental health after suffering emotional abuse as a child.

Sophie Dodd is a swimming coach at the University of Stirling where she currently studies and has recently founded her own community interest company which she hopes will help change sport in Scotland.

Speaking to the Advertiser, Sophie said: "When I was younger, I experienced emotional abuse from a coach and was scared to speak about it with the fear of jeopardising possible selections for national squads.

"As a young swimmer this was extremely damaging to my mental health and I later developed severe anxiety and depression.

"When this coach left my club, I realised that my mental health issues had been contributed by her approach to coaching me.

"My new coach was young and had never had any experience with mental illness himself. When I was going to him to tell him that I was feeling like I did not want to be here anymore, he handled it maturely despite his lack of training."

Despite a positive experience, Sophie cannot believe that coaches are not required to be trained in mental health first aid.

Sophie, who lives in Stirling, said: "With stories continuing to be featured on BBC News I realised that this is not just a problem in swimming and so I set it out to be my mission to change Scottish sport.

"It shocks me that coaches have no mental health first aid training and there is a direct correlation between this and mental illness, and even suicide, in sport.

"[Recently] Nile Wilson spoke about his experiences and explained that British Gymnastics had neglected their duty of care.

"To me, governing bodies have a duty of care for their athletes and I believe that coaches should be sufficiently trained in mental health first aid and sports psychology to be able to help their athletes as individuals and not just as medal makers.

"That is why I created my CIC and it is my goal that by the year 2025 all Scottish coaches and volunteers will be suitably trained in some level of mental health first aid and mental health awareness."

Despite her forward thinking and innovative approach, Sophie revealed that she received no response from governing bodies when she reached out to ask if she could provide insight and help.

She said: "My goal was to help by providing a free insight into mental health awareness in sport over zoom. Needless to say, I was disappointed to not get a reply."

For more information or to get in touch with Sophie, contact mentalhealthinsport@outlook.com