Mental Health Awareness in Sport

AECC University College Head of School of Psychology, Sport and Physical Activity and Professor of Sport and Performance Psychology Stewart Cotterill, has recently been involved in an international study on mental health awareness in sport which creates a new framework for applying practices and analysing the impact of mental wellbeing in sport.

We share the details of the study below, a full press release can be found here: Press release - AECC University College Professor involved in developing an international consensus statement on mental health in sport.

International Study on mental health awareness in sport 

This internationally recognised study, in the form of a consensus statement published in the BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine, has created minimum guidelines for the use of mental health initiatives in sporting environments, with the aim of the study to increase the understanding of the links between sporting participation and improved mental health.

10 countries were involved in the development of this statement and it is expected that the work will help guide mental health intervention design for players, coaches, officials and sporting organisations, both in elite and non-elite fields.  

The framework provides evidence-based guidance for selecting mental health awareness and implementation programmes in sport which acknowledge diversity and are quality assured at all stages.

Professor Cotterill reflected that:
The importance of mental health in sport is gaining increasing recognition at all levels of sports performance and participation. However, research focused on mental health in sport has lagged behind other domains. This international consensus statement will provide guidance on the development of mental health awareness programmes in sport and to guide effective implementation across all levels of sport”.

The statement creates a framework structure which includes; definitions and terminology which can be operationalised when promoting mental health awareness, key design principles such as; choice of psychological behaviour change theory, target populations, stakeholder involvement and delivery sites, outcomes to measure programme effectiveness; and methods for conducting and reporting interventions with sporting population groups (e.g. coaches, athletes and officials).

As part of the statement, six objectives were agreed:

(1) to define mental health awareness and service implementation constructs for inclusion in programmes delivered in sporting environments;

(2) to identify the need to develop and use valid measures that are developmentally appropriate for use in intervention studies with sporting populations, including measures of mental health that quantify symptom severity but also consider causal and mediating factors that go beyond pathology (ie, wellbeing and optimisation);

(3) to provide guidance on the selection of appropriate models to inform intervention design, implementation and evaluation;

(4) to determine minimal competencies of training for those involved in sport to support mental health, those experiencing mental illness
and when to refer to mental health professionals;

(5) to provide evidence-based guidance for selecting mental health awareness and implementation programmes in sport that acknowledge diversity and are quality assured; and

(6) to identify the need for administrators, parents, officials, coaches, athletes and workers to establish important roles in the promotion of mental health in various sports settings.

This news story has been shared to showcase AECC University College impact on the public health agenda and to also support the World Federation for Mental Health - World Mental Health Day on October 10th 2019.  

For more information on Mental Health we recommend you visit: Mental Health Foundation UK, who this year celebrated their 70th Anniversary as a UK charity working towards a world with good mental health for all.  Find out more: 70 years of the mental health foundation.