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Promoting mental health awareness in sport clubs

Gavin Breslin (Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute, Ulster University, Newtownabbey, UK) (The Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Ulster University, Derry, UK)
Tandy Jane Haughey (Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute, Ulster University, Newtownabbey, UK)
Paul Donnelly (Department of Policy and Research, Sport Northern Ireland, Belfast, UK)
Ciaran Kearney (Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute, Ulster University, Newtownabbey, UK)
Garry Prentice (Dublin Business School, Dublin, Ireland)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 19 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.).

Originality/value

This is the first study to apply the Theory of Planned Behaviour to mental health awareness programmes in a sport setting.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The project was funded by Sport Northern Ireland and the Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute at Ulster University. The authors thank Janine O’Gorman for assisting with the recruitment and collection of data with coaches in the control group.

Citation

Breslin, G., Haughey, T.J., Donnelly, P., Kearney, C. and Prentice, G. (2017), "Promoting mental health awareness in sport clubs", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 55-62. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-08-2016-0040

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited