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Tackling mental health: the role of professional football clubs

Curran, K and Rosenbaum, S and Parnell, D and Stubbs, B and Pringle, A and Hargreaves, J (2016) Tackling mental health: the role of professional football clubs. Sport in Society, 20 (2). pp. 281-291. ISSN 1743-0445

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Abstract

© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. In the UK, professional football clubs are being used as settings for the delivery of interventions that promote mental health in a number of ways including (i) the delivery of physical activity interventions to improve the mental health of the general population, (ii) the delivery of physical activity interventions for people experiencing mental illness, and (iii) the delivery of community mental health services within the confines of the football club. This research note offers insights into mental health interventions delivered within, and by, professional football clubs and the available evidence concerning their reach, effectiveness and impact. The findings suggest that professional football clubs can help to facilitate access to mental health services, particularly among young people, for whom accessing such services may be highly stigmatized. Furthermore, the findings highlight that such interventions have a positive impact on health. However, in order to capitalize on th is opportunity funding agencies and commissioners must provide appropriate resources (human and financial) for effective delivery and evaluation. Furthermore, a more strategic approach to working towards the mental health agenda must be adopted. It is argued that this change in practice would allow professional football clubs to offer those in need access to high-quality interventions.

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