Sport Northern Ireland has published new research, undertaken in partnership with Ulster University, which further supports the role that sport can play in the promotion of mental health and wellbeing amongst local communities and athletes.

Researchers from Ulster University and Sport Northern Ireland worked together on the “Mental Health and Wellbeing Interventions in Sport: A Review and Recommendations” research study which sought to identify and examine the effectiveness of international programmes that promote mental health and wellbeing awareness in sport, and also to review regional mental health and wellbeing policies, strategies and interventions

Commenting on the report, Sport Northern Ireland Chair George Lucas said:

“Mental health is one of the most commonly raised concerns in many communities across Northern Ireland.  When a reported one in four people facing a mental health condition, cutting edge research to improve outcomes is vitally important.

“This new report builds upon previous research conducted by Sport Northern Ireland and Ulster University, and provides greater insight into how the local and international sporting communities are working to promote mental health and wellbeing, as well as the issues and challenges they face. Sport NI strongly believes that sport has the potential to be a major force for good in enhancing people’s mental health, and through this report we hope to build better understanding of how this can be accomplished.”

Lead researcher from Ulster University, Dr Gavin Breslin, added:

“Ulster University’s world-leading research in sport and exercise science is helping to inform government policy and transform the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities, both locally and globally. Commissioned by SportNI, the University’s review of international and regional best-practice of mental health and wellbeing interventions in sport, concluded that the sport setting is the ideal environment to communicate positive mental health messages. However, the research also found that the most appropriate way to deliver these messages remains uncertain.

“The University report makes a number of key recommendations including the development of a mental health and wellbeing strategy specific to sport; enhanced integration of mental health safeguarding into existing networks; and improved evaluation of current awareness programmes. These Ulster University recommendations will be used as a foundation for the work of the Strategy Steering Group for Mental Health and Wellbeing In and Through Sport.”

For further information please contact Dr Paul Donnelly (Sport NI) at pauldonnelly@sportni.net

The report, along with other Sport NI Research, can be downloaded here.