Mental Health Literacy of Semi-elite Rugby Players who Identify as Women.

  • Shakiba Oftadeh Moghadam

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Women rugby players’ experiences with mental health symptoms and disorders are scarce within academic research. This thesis aimed to understand the role of mental health literacy in women rugby players’ well-being, intentions to seek help and attitudes towards mental health symptoms and disorders, as well as examine the efficacy of an educational mental health literacy intervention. Findings from this thesis demonstrated, for the first time, that rates of mental health symptoms in rugby players ranged from 6% (depression) to 68.8% (alcohol use/misuse) and were consistent with those found in the general population. The cross-sectional study in this thesis highlighted low rates of well-being in women rugby players, whilst those who indicated a previous mental health problem exhibited significantly higher levels of mental health literacy. Mental health literacy was significantly and positively correlated with general help-seeking intentions, but not significantly correlated with distress or well-being. Furthermore, findings from an inductive thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with women players identified the determinants of help-seeking (e.g., increasing mental health literacy) in addition to barriers to help-seeking and mental health support (e.g., mental health stigmatisation) in women’s rugby. The final thesis study evaluated the efficacy of an online educational mental health literacy intervention among women rugby players. The intervention was successful in enhancing players’ mental health literacy and attitudes toward seeking and receiving help, as well as reducing stigmatising attitudes towards seeking help.
Governing bodies should explore the development of online synchronous and/or asynchronous training materials to improve their players’, coaches’, and wider staffs’ mental health literacy. Additionally, they should recruit mental health professionals as experts within their boards of governance to provide tailored advice. Future research should examine the co- creation of mental health interventions within women’s rugby, where collaborative decision- making processes between the researchers and players inform the creation of an intervention.
Date of Award30 May 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorNeil Weston (Supervisor), Pawel Gorczynski (Supervisor) & Juliette Stebbings (Supervisor)

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