Mental health literacy, help-seeking, and mental health outcomes in women rugby players

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Abstract

Within rugby, a plethora of research has focused on male rugby players, with some recent attention being directed to examining their mental health. Such attention has not been evident for their female rugby counterparts. The aims of this study were to ascertain levels of mental health literacy (MHL) and explore demographic differences in United Kingdom semi-elite rugby players who identified as women, and examine whether MHL is associated with better mental health outcomes and general help-seeking intentions. In total, 208 semi-elite women rugby players completed an online multi-section questionnaire measuring MHL, general help-seeking intentions, distress, and well-being. Overall, most players scored a low rating of well-being, however those who indicated a previous mental health problem exhibited significantly higher levels of MHL. Players were more likely to display general help-seeking intentions towards an intimate partner or a friend than a healthcare professional. High levels of distress were reported in 64.4% of players, particularly those who had been previously medically diagnosed with a mental disorder and bisexual rugby players. MHL was significantly, positively correlated with general help-seeking intentions, but not significantly correlated with distress or well-being. This study is the first to examine MHL in women rugby players and suggests that strategies devised by multi-disciplinary teams of experts to help promote, engage and offer tailored mental health support to women rugby players would be beneficial. Further investigations exploring the determinants of, and barriers to, MHL amongst women rugby players would be worthwhile to better understand and support players throughout their sporting career.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWomen in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 13 Aug 2021

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