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University to lead the first UK wide survey into mental health in sport and physical activity

Edge Hill University in partnership with DOCIAsport is today (Wednesday 10 October) launching the UK’s first ever national survey into the mental health of people involved in sport.

Questioning people (aged 16+) who work in sport from grassroots to professional level, and in the education and physical activity/lifestyle sectors, the results will reveal for the first time the state of mental health throughout the sports workforce.

It will be the first time data of this kind will be collected and it’s hoped thousands of thousands of leaders, employees and volunteers across the sport and physical activity sector will take part in the study.

Great Britain Paralympian, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, is backing the survey after she chaired the government’s Duty of Care in Sport Review in 2017.

She said: “The mental health of the sport sector was a vitally important component of the terms of reference of the review.

“I am delighted that Edge Hill University and DOCIAsport have launched this survey which will help inform strategies and policies relating to wellbeing for all involved in delivering sport and activity in the UK.

“While the ability to discuss these issues has become more positive in recent times, there is still much to be done to ensure that people are supported to reach their potential.”

Supported by the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the short ten-minute survey will be shared across sport and physical activity organisations, national governing bodies and other groups including charities and universities.

Edge Hill Professor of Sport and Physical Activity, Andy Smith, who contributed to the 2017 review, said: “Mental health and illness are increasingly recognised as being important in sport and physical activity, yet little data exists on the mental health of the workforce in the sector and how prevalent mental illness and mental health help-seeking is.

“Through this survey and the interviews we hope to conduct, we’ll be able to shed new light on mental health in the UK sport and physical activity workforce and be able to identify variations between sports and different job/volunteer roles which is an important starting point for better understanding this complex area.

“Ultimately our findings will enable us to make recommendations on how organisations in the sport and physical activity sector can better support their employees’ mental health and how effective forms of training and support can be developed.”

Ian Braid, founder of DOCIAsport (Duty of Care in Action in sport) and former CEO of the British Athletes Commission, and who himself has experienced mental illness, said: “The need to address mental health in the sport and physical activity sector was one of the driving forces behind setting up DOCIAsport and for collaborating with Edge Hill University on this important project.

“This is the first survey of its kind, especially in its broad definition of “workforce” which rightly includes all manner of roles and volunteer positions. I look forward to the results in 2019 which will ultimately help inform future policies and practice.”

To read more about the project and complete the survey, please visit: www.edgehill.ac.uk/sport/research/spawmh.

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