Building global ideas to support youth mental health

The mental health of athletes has been highlighted in recent times by high-profile stars like Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka and US gymnast Simone Biles speaking publicly about their mental health issues.

It is estimated about a third of elite athletes around the world experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, about 30 per cent of female student athletes and 25 per cent of male student athletes report having anxiety.

In Australia, a 2020 study published in the BMJ Journal of Open Sport and Exercise Medicine, found mental health was a particular issue for female elite athletes.

Former gymnast and Female Founder Annie Devitt (formerly Flamsteed) was competing at the highest level of gymnastics when she saw an opportunity to create a technology platform that tracks the mental health and wellbeing of athletes.

iNSPIRETEK is an industry-first health technology platform where athletes can input daily metrics including their mental health, sleep, fatigue, nutrition and stress, providing valuable insights, tools and education for sports coaches and officials to prioritise the wellbeing of athletes and the identification of potential athlete issues.

“As a former competitive young gymnast in Queensland, I know having access to something like iNSPIRETEK would have been very beneficial to my mental and physical health as I progressed through athletics as a young athlete,” Annie said.

From what started as an idea from her hometown in Toowoomba, Annie’s idea has gone global and is used by sporting organisations across the world, including Basketball Queensland and more recently New York Junior Tennis and Learning (NYJTL).

Annie said she feels extremely fortunate to have founded her startup in Queensland thanks to the supportive innovation ecosystem, which is particularly supportive of women of entrepreneurs.  

“I had never heard of tech startups or tech innovation at university, but I know that’s very different now with innovation building in the region.

“Anybody can have an idea, but having the right support to set up a good business model and good advice is what gets the business off the ground. My advice to other female founders, or any founders – is to be open to being coached and receiving support,” she said.

The Queensland Government has now invested in iNSPIRETEK and its health technology so it can be piloted by athletes, coaches and club officials from nine state-level sporting organisations, including Basketball Queensland.

Basketball Queensland CEO Joshua Pascoe said they had previously been using an in-house solution for tracking athlete wellbeing and had started to look for partners who could deliver a more user-friendly product.

“The iNSPIRETEK platform is intuitive and built with the end user in mind, which has seen an exponential increase in engagement in the platform with our participants.

“We now have access to an innovative tool that can ensure that we’re across all of our athletes wellbeing and nutrition, including automatic intervention, and that’s a massive benefit to all state sporting organisations.”

From what started as a solo venture, with a few engineers, advisors and investors, Annie has grown the business into 20 plus employees all across the world, including an experienced sports and technology CEO, Rodney Rapson, who stepped into his leadership role in late 2022.

Rodney said that the funding from the Queensland Government was an incredible validation for the technology and service they have built.

“We are proud as a Queensland-based company to support our athletes and state as they look to develop and compete on the global stage. Our system is being rolled out across numerous Queensland sporting organisations, with the goal to increase access to personalised mental health and wellbeing resources and tools, and to enhance communication and collaboration between young athletes, their coaches, teams and support systems.”

Unlike other Athlete Management System technologies, iNSPIRETEK's platform puts young people at the centre, while offering the communication, content and engagement tools that today's coaches, administrators and organisations require. Through mental health and wellbeing tracking, Inspiretek delivers personalised evidence-based content, education and support for every user.

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Last updated 16 Nov, 2023
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