Cardiff para table tennis star Daniel Mead received royal advice about how to maintain his mental fitness on his way to the top.

The 14-year-old was one of several young athletes who were joined by The Prince and Princess of Wales at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre for a SportsAid workshop dedicated to mental health and wellbeing.

Mead was amongst a host of young athletes who heard from a number of sporting stars, including four-time Olympic champion Sir Matthew Pinsent and five-time Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Simmonds, about their experiences of managing anxiety, pressure and expectation.

For several years, SportsAid has been providing information and advice on mental health and wellbeing in partnership with BelievePerform. The athletes, as well as their parents and guardians, contributed to two themed sessions, followed by a couple of practical exercises, alongside The Prince and Princess.

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“We had talks on resilience and how to build it,” Mead said. “It was really helpful as everyone experiences bumps in the road and resilience is really important to help you bounce back from them.  

“The mental side of sport is really important because even though you have got to keep yourself physically fit, if you don’t work on your mental side that is going to impact your performance.” 

The event included practical and theory sessions aiming to help educate young sporting stars on how to manage stress and pressure while balancing other areas of their life. 

“Ama Agbeze talked about how in 2019 she got de-selected from the England squad and she had to really focus on developing her mental skills to bounce back stronger to get back in the team,” he added.  

“And Ellie Simmonds mentioned she has become really good friends with her coach now that she has retired because he helped her that much.  

“She also mentioned how sometimes she didn’t even swim, she just talked with her sport psychologist because it really helped her improve the mental side of the sport.”

The visit from The Prince and Princess comes after SportsAid revealed the findings of a new mental health and wellbeing survey, commissioned by the charity in September 2023, on World Mental Health Day.

The survey, run in partnership with BelievePerform and EVERFI, highlighted the anxiety felt by young athletes involved in performance sport, the different challenges facing female and para athletes, and the appetite for more support and advice.

Mead is one of over 1,000 young athletes who receive funding and support from SportsAid to pursue their sporting ambitions. 

“SportsAid helps me immensely,” he said. “The workshops give me techniques to try out which will improve my overall mental performance.” 

Despite only picking up table tennis five years ago, Mead has progressed quickly, securing the title of Wales U13 National Champion in 2022. 

“In November I have got a Home Nations championship in Bangor so I am focusing on that,” he said. 

“The big aim would be to win the Paralympics, but it will obviously take a lot of hard work and resilience, which is why today was so helpful.”

SportsAid supports the next generation of athletes through financial grants and personal development opportunities and Chief Executive Tim Lawler is excited about the charity’s future work on mental health.

He said: “The support of The Prince and Princess is really special and exciting. 

“The Princess, as our Patron, has been so supportive and we know this is a topic she is hugely passionate about.  

“Both The Prince and Princess have been invited to join us and committed their time as a Patron – they engaged and shared their experiences with the athletes, who were also able to hear from multiple Olympic and Paralympic champions about their own personal experiences. 

“We are now ramping up our work around mental health and wellbeing. This a key space we need to move into – it’s an unmet need and it’s understood by athletes. 

“This event today is not just a one-off – it was a hugely fun day but we want to do even more heading into next year to further enhance our support for our athletes around health and wellbeing.”

SportsAid is seeking support from individuals and organisations to allow the charity to invest further in its mental health and wellbeing initiatives. Please contact Serena Castiglione, Head of Fundraising at SportsAid, on if you would like to help provide talented young athletes, as well as their families, with the support and advice they need at a key time in their development.