Survey Results

Edge Hill University in association with DOCIAsport and supported by the Sport and Recreation Alliance

1,201 respondents (51% male; 49% female; 0.4% other) aged 16+ working in over 50 roles across more than 50 sports and activities completed the Sport and Physical Activity Workforce Mental Health (SPAWMH) survey between 10 October 2018 and 31 December 2018.

Ever experienced mental illness

Ever experienced mental illness:

57%

of all respondents

51% 64%

56%

of heterosexual respondents

625 people

73%

of gay men or gay women/lesbian

30 people

79%

of those who identified as bisexual

19 people

Those working in:


63%

Activity / Lifestyle / Recreation


59%

Grassroots / Community Sport


55%

Education


52%

High Performance Sport

Back to top

Most commonly reported mental illnesses ever experienced:

All respondents


  • Anxiety (71%)
  • Depression (68%)
  • Panic disorders (14%)
  • Self-harm (12%)
  • PTSD (11%)
  • OCD (8%)
  • Substance use disorders (including alcohol) (7%)

Male respondents


  • Depression (73%)
  • Anxiety (65%)
  • PTSD (10%)
  • Substance use disorders (including alcohol) (9%)
  • Panic disorders (9%)
  • OCD (8%)
  • Self-harm (7%)

Female respondents


  • Anxiety (75%)
  • Depression (64%)
  • Panic disorders (18%)
  • Self-harm (15%)
  • PTSD (11%)
  • OCD (8%)
  • Anorexia nervosa (8%)
  • Bulimia nervosa (7%)

Back to top


Gender and age-related differences in experience of mental illness

Age Male respondents Males ever experienced mental illness Males currently experience mental illness* Female respondents Females ever experienced mental illness Females currently experience mental illness*
16-24 57 36 (63%) 11 (31%) 98 69 (70%) 37 (54%)
25-34 139 72 (52%) 32 (44%) 163 119 (73%) 57 (48%)
35-44 136 73 (54%) 37 (51%) 145 92 (63%) 30 (33%)
45-59 195 93 (48%) 36 (39%) 149 78 (52%) 24 (31%)
60+ 79 34 (43%) 5 (15%) 35 19 (54%) 2 (11%)
* Of those who have ever experienced mental illness

Back to top

Currently experience mental illness

Currently experience mental illness:

23%

of all respondents

20% 26%

40%

of those who had experienced mental illness

40% 41%

39%

of heterosexual respondents


43%

of gay men or gay women/lesbian


84%

of those who identified as bisexual

More

39% of heterosexual respondents currently experience mental illness, compared to 43% of gay men or gay women/lesbian and 84% of those who identified as bisexual (though the latter groups are based on low numbers).

Those working in:


45%

Grassroots / Community Sport


41%

Education


38%

Activity / Lifestyle / Recreation


37%

High Performance Sport

Back to top

Most commonly reported mental illnesses currently experienced:

All respondents


  • Anxiety (74%)
  • Depression (56%)
  • PTSD (9%)
  • Panic disorders (8%)
  • OCD (7%)
  • Self-harm (7%)
  • Substance use disorders (including alcohol) (3%)

Male respondents


  • Anxiety (69%)
  • Depression (66%)
  • OCD (9%)
  • PTSD (8%)
  • Substance use disorders (including alcohol) (6%)

Female respondents


  • Anxiety (79%)
  • Depression (47%)
  • Panic disorders (12%)
  • Self-harm (10%)
  • PTSD (9%)
  • OCD (5%)

Back to top

Mental illness experienced by others:

35%

of respondents personally knew of others in the same position as them in their organisation who currently experience a diagnosed mental illness, with three quarters of them suggesting they know 1-3 such people.

The most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses experienced by others who respondents personally knew:


  • Anxiety (69%)
  • Depression (66%)
  • OCD (9%)
  • PTSD (8%)
  • Substance use disorders (including alcohol) (6%)

Back to top

Currently experience mental illness:

Top 15 sports

Sport Number of Respondents Ever experienced mental illness Currently experience mental illness
Football 234 121 (52%) 48 (40%)
Multi-sport 225 118 (52%) 54 (46%)
Athletics 83 46 (55%) 15 (33%)
Running 79 48 (61%) 13 (27%)
Rugby Union 63 37 (59%) 15 (41%)
Exercise and fitness 51 35 (69%) 15 (43%)
Triathlon 50 30 (60%) 10 (33%)
Golf 35 19 (54%) 6 (32%)
Swimming 32 18 (56%) 7 (39%)
Cycling 25 16 (64%) 6 (38%)
Cricket 24 10 (42%) 6 (60%)
Rugby League 21 11 (52%) 6 (55%)
Hockey 19 15 (79%) 3 (20%)
Climbing/mountaineering 18 14 (78%) 8 (57%)
Netball 18 9 (50%) 2 (22%)
Other 53 38 (72%) 16 (42%)

Back to top


Top 15 roles

Role Number of Respondents Ever experienced mental illness Currently experience mental illness*
Coach 202 111 (55%) 49 (44%)
Administration/Secretary 84 47 (56%) 22 (47%)
Sport Therapist 80 52 (65%) 14 (27%)
Volunteer 73 47 (64%) 22 (47%)
Sports Development Officer 71 41 (58%) 15(37%)
Manager 67 35 (52%) 15 (43%)
Anti-Doping Officer 61 24 (39%) 4 (17%)
Programme Manager/Director 60 33 (55%) 16 (49%)
Athlete/Player 58 33 (57%) 13 (39%)
University Lecturer 33 16 (49%) 5 (31%)
Commercial/Marketing 30 16 (53%) 9 (56%)
Education and Welfare Officer 29 12 (41%) 7 (58%)
Chief Executive Officer 25 13 (52%) 3 (23%)
Programme Deliverer 17 14 (82%) 7 (50%)
Chair Person 16 11 (69%) 3 (27%)
* Of those who have ever experienced mental illness

Back to top


Gender and age-related differences in experience of mental illness

Age Male respondents Males ever experienced mental illness Males currently experience mental illness* Female respondents Females ever experienced mental illness Females currently experience mental illness*
16-24 57 36 (63%) 11 (31%) 98 69 (70%) 37 (54%)
25-34 139 72 (52%) 32 (44%) 163 119 (73%) 57 (48%)
35-44 136 73 (54%) 37 (51%) 145 92 (63%) 30 (33%)
45-59 195 93 (48%) 36 (39%) 149 78 (52%) 24 (31%)
60+ 79 34 (43%) 5 (15%) 35 19 (54%) 2 (11%)
* Of those who have ever experienced mental illness

Back to top

Support for mental health

Organisational practice, help-seeking and support for mental health

57%


preferred to receive mental health support from someone outside their organisation / workplace

More

25%

would like to receive support from someone inside and outside their organisation


5%

preferred to receive mental health support from someone inside their organisation


13%

didn’t know

46%


felt mental health and illness were taken seriously or very seriously by the leaders or managers of their organisation.

More

34%

felt they were taken somewhat seriously


20%

felt that the leaders or managers in their organisation did not take mental health and illness very seriously or not at all seriously

58%


said that it would be unlikely or very unlikely that other people in the same position as them would disclose their experience of mental illness to others

More

10%

felt it was very likely that other people in the same position as them would disclose their experience of mental illness to others in the organisation


25%

said it would be somewhat likely

46%


felt confident or very confident speaking to others in their organisation about their mental health

More

33%

felt neither confident nor unconfident


21%

felt unconfident or very unconfident

41%


felt confident or very confident discussing their own mental health with colleagues in their organisation

More

26%

felt neither confident nor unconfident


32%

felt unconfident or very unconfident

31%


had ever spoken about their mental health to someone in their organisation

More

59%

had never spoken to someone but had not needed to


10%

had never spoken to someone but would have liked to

17%


had ever received support for their mental health from someone in their organisation

More

53%

had never received support but did not need it


28%

had never received support but had not asked for support


2%

had asked for support but that support was not provided

34%


had ever received support for their mental health from someone in their organisation


66%

were not aware

54%


were not aware of any mental health support available to them in their organisation


46%

were aware

Back to top

Awareness of support provided by organisation Respondents Mental health support organisations should make available Respondents
Counselling 61% Healthy work-life balance 44%
Flexible working 54% Counselling 38%
Signposting to appropriate external services 47% Regular health checks 36%
Healthy work-life balance 43% Signposting to appropriate external services 33%
Occupational health/employee assistance programmes 40% Flexible working 31%
Digital/online support 19% Occupational health/employee assistance programmes 21%
Psychologist 13% Cognitive behaviour therapy 20%
Regular health checks 12% Digital/online support 18%
Cognitive behaviour therapy 12% Psychologist 16%
Other 7% No support 14%
Other 6%

Back to top

Spotlight

Headline findings for coaches

Responses were received from 202 coaches (118 males; 84 females) who worked in over 30 sports or activities.

Sector Number of Respondents (n=202) Males (n=118) Females (n=84)
High-performance sport 35 (17%) 25 (71%) 10 (29%)
Grassroots/community 94 (47%) 42 (45%) 52 (55%)
Education 19 (9%) 12 (63%) 7 (37%)
Activity/lifestyle/recreation 40 (20%) 25 (56%) 15 (33%)
Ever experienced mental illness 111 (55%) 60 (51%) 51 (61%)
High-performance sport 16 (46%) 11 (44%) 5 (50%)
Grassroots/community 63 (57%) 28 (67%) 35 (67%)
Education 10 (53%) 7 (58%) 3 (43%)
Activity/lifestyle/recreation 22 (55%) 14 (56%) 8 (53%)
Currently experience mental illness 49 (44%) 28 (47%) 21 (41%)
High-performance sport 6 (38%) 3 (27%) 2 (40%)
Grassroots/community 35 (56%) 17 (61%) 16 (46%)
Education 2 (20%) 2 (29%) 0 (0%)
Activity/lifestyle/recreation 8 (27%) 5 (36%) 3 (38%)

Back to top


Top 5 sports in which coaches worked

Sport Male respondents Males ever experienced mental illness Males currently experience mental illness* Female respondents Females ever experienced mental illness Females currently experience mental illness*
Football 17 10 (59%) 5 (50%) 11 8 (73%) 3 (38%)
Athletics 14 7 (50%) 3 (43%) 11 5 (46%) 2 (40%)
Running 13 8 (62%) 4 (50%) 10 5 (50%) 0 (0%)
Swimming 4 1 (25%) 0 (0%) 9 6 (67%) 3 (50%)
Rugby union 8 1 (13%) 0 (0%) 2 1 (50%) 1 (100%)
* Of those who have ever experienced mental illness

Back to top


Age and coach experience of mental illness

Age group Male respondents Males ever experienced mental illness Males currently experience mental illness* Female respondents Females ever experienced mental illness Females currently experience mental illness*
16-24 7 5 (71%) 3 (60%) 10 7 (73%) 4 (57%)
25-34 23 11 (48%) 6 (55%) 18 13 (72%) 9 (69%)
35-44 23 12 (52%) 7 (58%) 26 17 (65%) 6 (35%)
45-59 47 23 (49%) 11 (48%) 26 10 (39%) 1 (10%)
60+ 18 8 (44%) 0 (0%) 4 3 (75%) 1 (33%)
* Of those who have ever experienced mental illness

Back to top

About the respondents

About the respondents

  • Respondents were drawn from grassroots/community sport (30%), high performance sport (28%), activity/lifestyle/recreation (24%) and education (19%) sectors.
  • 4% of respondents worked in England (990 people), 8% worked in Northern Ireland, 6% worked in Scotland and 4% worked in Wales.
  • 3% identified themselves as heterosexual/straight (1,109 people), 3% as a gay woman/lesbian, 2% as Bisexual, 1% as a gay man, and 2% preferred not to say or self-described.
  • The majority of respondents described their ethnic background as ‘White’: 68% were White British (815 people), 15% White English, 5% White Scottish, 4% White Irish, and 2% White Welsh.
  • 8% (1,126 people) did not consider themselves to have a disability, 5% were disabled (39% learning disability/difficulty, 38% physical disability, 21% hearing impairment, 16% visual impairment) and 1% preferred not to say.

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).

Last updated on Last updated on Was this page helpful? Yes NoThanks for your feedback!Please tell us more:
Share