Survey claims over half of men and women involved in sport have experienced mental illness

Last Updated: 15/04/19 11:15am

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson calls for more to be done about mental health issues in sport

Over half of men and women involved in sport have experienced a mental illness, according to a nationwide survey compiled by academics.

The report published by Edge Hill University, in conjunction with DOCIAsport, examined the responses of over 1,200 people aged 16 and over who play sport, exercise or work in the sport and physical activity sector.

From grassroots to professional level, it was revealed that 57 per cent of respondents had experienced a mental illness with women (64 per cent) more likely to have suffered than men (51 per cent). Of those who had experienced mental illness, 40 per cent currently did so.

For young women aged 16 to 24, 70 per cent said they had experienced mental illness with over half (54 per cent) currently doing so. Men were more likely to currently experience mental illness from the age of 35.

Anxiety, depression, panic disorders, self-harm, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) were the most commonly reported illnesses for men and women, with men also reporting conditions such as substance use disorders (including alcohol) and women anorexia and bulimia.

Those operating in grassroots sport were more likely to currently experience mental illness (45 per cent) compared with those in high-performance sport (37 per cent).

"These findings show that mental illness can affect people across all sports and activities regardless of their role or status," Great Britain Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said.

"While much has been done to raise awareness of mental health within the sport and physical activity community over the last few years, the survey responses show there is still much more that can be done to better support people playing,exercising or working in the UK sport and physical activity sector."