CAPSULE 5 – Toxic relationships during shutdown

CAPSULE 5 – Toxic relationships during shutdown

By Élise Marsollier, PhD, Mental Performance Consultant at Excellence Sportive Québec-Lévis

Amélie Soulard, PsyD, Psychologist and mental performance consultant at INS Québec


Current shutdown measures are triggering a whole range of emotions among athletes. For some, the uncertainty and the unfamiliar situation mean extra stress, while others are experiencing the loss and sadness of not being able to train and be with their teammates. However, some are also full of optimism and hope for next year. In terms of motivation, some are working harder, in the knowledge that they will have a chance to come back stronger when competitions get going again. But others have cut their training schedules or are lacking in motivation to continue training at home. These varying reactions are totally normal and understandable given the current situation.

You may find that some people (parents, coaches, sports leaders, teammates, life partners, etc.) try to put additional pressure on your athlete shoulders, which could mean you feel more stressed or lead you to having an increased feeling of powerlessness or guilt than you may already be experiencing. You may also find that shutdown is forcing you to reflect on the relationships you have with these people and make you realize that they are detrimental to your well-being. What is a toxic relationship? When can you say that you’re suffering from harassment, intimidation or even violence?

Many organizations are committed to your safety. At Sport’Aide, our mission is to ensure leadership in the implementation of initiatives favouring a healthy, safe and harmonious sporting environment for young athletes in Québec. To do so, Sport’Aide has a support network based on four key areas:

  • Listening and support via a free and confidential telephone line and online service.
  • Advice and support to sports and leisure organizations, parents, volunteers etc.
  • Education and communication to the general public via traditional media outlets and social media.
  • Action research (development of scientific expertise-based tools).

To achieve its mission, Sport’Aide works with researchers, social workers and consultants in the fields of both clinical psychology and mental performance. If you need help, or just need to talk, you can contact Sport’Aide by phone or text message, by email, via Facebook or the Sport’Aide website:

  • 1 833 211-AIDE (2433)
  • 1 833 245-HELP (4357)

Don’t forget that INS Québec, backed by its Policy on the Respect of Persons and Harassment Prevention, is committed to maintaining an environment free from all forms of harassment and violence, and to ensuring the respect, safety and dignity of everyone, including its customers — both athletes and coaches. If you have any questions or wish to report a situation, we are available to listen to you and support you. You can contact us at:


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