About the study

The purpose of this research is to undertake the first nation-wide study of mental health in the sport and physical activity workforce (i.e. grassroots/community sport, high-performance sport, activity/lifestyle/recreation and education) in the United Kingdom.

The study is intended for anyone aged 16 and above and is concerned with identifying ways in which the mental health of those who work in sport can be better supported and promoted.


Why have I been invited to participate?

You are invited to take part in the study if you are aged 16 and over and currently work in the grassroots/community sport, high-performance sport, activity/lifestyle/recreation or education sector. By ‘work’, we mean that you are currently employed (or contracted) in a paid position, or undertake work as a volunteer/on a voluntary basis, for any organisation in the sport sector. These organisations include:

  • Charities and voluntary groups
  • Coaching providers
  • Community interest companies
  • Education (e.g. schools, colleges, universities)
  • Exercise, physical activity and leisure providers
  • Government funded departments
  • National governing body
  • Non-departmental public body
  • Outdoor education and activity providers
  • Professional bodies/organisations
  • Professional player associations
  • Professional teams or squads
  • Sports clubs
  • Sport-for-development/social change organisations

Do I have to take part? What will happen to me if I decide to take part?

No. It is up to you whether or not you decide to take part after reading this information sheet. Please note that the study is intended for people aged 16 and above, so if you are under the age of 16 you are unfortunately unable to take part.

If you are aged 16 and above and do decide to take part, you will be invited to complete one short online survey about mental health in the sport and physical activity workforce. Completing the survey indicates your willingness to take part. You can withdraw at any point by not completing the survey and submitting your responses to the researchers. Once you have submitted your responses to the survey, you are no longer able to withdraw.

At the end of the survey you will be asked whether you would like to take part in one follow-up interview, whether in person, by telephone, or online (e.g. via Skype or email), to discuss your mental health experiences in sport. You do not have to do this. If you would like to take part in the interview, you can stop at any time and up to 4 weeks after the interview has been completed. If you do decide to withdraw, any information you have provided will be destroyed immediately. Should you wish to be interviewed but not complete the survey, you should contact Professor Smith using the above details. If you decide to be interviewed, you will be given the opportunity to receive a copy of the draft interview transcript (secured with an encrypted password which will be sent separately) to an agreed email address to make any amendments as required. You will then have 7 working days to return any amendments to the interviewer by email.

What will happen to the data provided and will my participation be anonymous?

You should note that UK data protection law changed on 25 May 2018 when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect. This new legislation gives you more control over how your data is used. We have updated the University Privacy Notice to reflect these changes.

The information you provide as part of this study is the research study data. Any research study data from which you can be identified is known as personal data. Although you will be asked in the survey to provide some personal data (e.g. your age and gender), you are not asked to include your name or other contact details unless you wish to take part in a follow-up interview. The collection of your personal data is solely for the purposes of this research project which is conducted in the public interest. We will not disclose your personal data to a third party, without explicit consent, unless there is a legitimate reason for doing so. We do however have an obligation to act if a disclosure is made that suggests, either directly or indirectly, that there is harm to you or to others, or criminal activity.

Any personal data you may provide (e.g. name, contact details) will be stored safely, separately from research data. Your personal data will be held for a maximum of 12 months from the point of receipt to enable the researchers to hold interviews with you if you decide to do this. All research data will be stored indefinitely to enable the researchers to publish their findings (see below), for other researchers to scrutinise the data, and so that the findings can be used to improve future mental health practice in sport. All research and personal data will be stored in electronic format, will be encrypted/password protected, and will be accessible only by the researchers.

What will happen to the results of the research project?

Once completed, the results of the project will be published anonymously in various publicly available online and print formats. These may include academic outlets (e.g. journal articles, books), professional/sector relevant publications and the media.

Who has reviewed the project?

This project has been reviewed and approved by the Department of Sport and Physical Activity Research Ethics Committee at Edge Hill University, and its reference number is: SPA-REC-2018-022.

What are the possible disadvantages and risks of taking part?

Beyond the time you give to complete the survey and/or interview, you are not expected to encounter many further disadvantages or risks beyond those in your normal working and personal life. However, given the project asks you about mental health, it is possible that you will find this sensitive or potentially upsetting. All of the researchers are trained in mental health first aid and are willing to discuss any experiences you may wish to disclose as long as it is within the boundaries of their expertise. However, the researchers do have an obligation to seek further guidance and help from appropriately qualified professionals should they feel that you (or another person) are in any immediate danger or if anything you raise cannot be dealt with within the boundaries of their expertise.

The details of other relevant support services you may wish to access are:

Samaritans – for everyone, open 24 hours a day
Call: 116 123
Email: jo@samaritans.org

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call: 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day
Visit the webchat page

Papyrus – for people under 35
Call: 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm
Text: 07786 209697
Email: pat@papyrus-uk.org

Childline – for children and young people under 19
Call: 0800 1111 – the number won’t show up on your phone bill

The Mix – for people under 25
Call: 0808 808 4994 – Open Sunday to Friday from 2pm to 11pm
Crisis Messenger: Text THEMIX to 85258 – available 24 hours, 7 days per week

For help finding local mental health services, visit the Hub of Hope

What are the possible benefits of taking part?

Although you may not benefit directly from taking part in the study, you may feel better from having the opportunity to share your experiences of mental health and/or helping to potentially improve services which better support the mental health of those who work in the sport sector, including yourself.

Is there someone independent I can talk to about the research?

If you have any feedback, queries or concerns about the project that you do not wish to share with the research team, please contact Professor Lars McNaughton (Chair, Department of Sport and Physical Activity Research Ethics Committee) by email (Lars.McNaughton@edgehill.ac.uk) or telephone (01695 657296).

Find out more

View our MSc Sport, Physical Activity and Mental Health programme, other courses and our sport and mental health work on our Everton in the Community pages.

For more information about this project, please contact Professor Andy Smith (Andy.Smith@edgehill.ac.uk).