Promoting Mental Health Awareness in Sport Clubs

Gavin Breslin, Tandy Haughey, Paul Donnelly, Ciarán Kearney, Garry Prentice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
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The World Health Organization estimates that millions of people across the world experience mental health problems, yet traditionally athletes have been poorly supported to manage their mental health. The purpose of this paper is to apply the Theory of Planned Behaviour to determine the effect of a mental health awareness programme on sports coaches’ knowledge and intentions to offer support to athletes who experience mental health problems.

Adult coaches (n=244) were recruited to attend the Mood Matters in Sport Programme mental health awareness intervention or act as a control. A 2 (group) × 2 (time) quasi-experimental design was adopted. All participants completed the Mental Health Knowledge Schedule and Reported and Intended Behaviour Scale at the beginning and end of the programme. Two months postprogramme delivery focus groups were conducted.

A mixed analysis of variance showed a significant interaction effect wherein there were improvements in mental health knowledge and intentions to offer support compared to the control group. Focus group findings provided further detail on how to support mental health awareness in sport clubs.

Practical implications
Knowledge and intentions to offer support can be enhanced through a short mental health awareness programme. The already established social networks available in sport clubs can provide a natural environment for delivering mental health awareness programmes. The programme facilitated discussion on mental health issues and highlighted that future programmes should contain more sport-related examples (i.e. case studies, videos, etc.).

This is the first study to apply the Theory of Planned Behaviour to mental health awareness programmes in a sport setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-62
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Public Mental Health
Issue number2
Early online date19 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished online - 19 Jun 2017


  • resilience
  • mental toughness
  • mental health
  • stigma
  • help seeking


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