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.
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.
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.
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
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