What is it about?

Professional rugby league players, like many elite athletes, may find it difficult to seek help for mental health issues. In this paper, we explore some of the factors which influence actual help-seeking, and examine differences between those who have sought help for mental health issues and those players who have not.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show that players who had sought help for mental health issues showed greater awareness of mental health support and experienced greater psychological stress. Barriers to help-seeking inlcude poor mental health literacy and perceived stigma. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to have looked at self-reported help-seeking behaviour. This is significant because we are exploring actual help-seeking, rather than attitudes or intentions towards help-seeking.


In this paper we have taken a look at the self-reported help-seeking behaviour in a sample of professional RFL players, and explored some factors which can help explain differences between those who seek help for mental health issues and those who do not. Being able to explore actual help-seeking behaviour is exciting, as previous research haven't measured actual behaviour, but examined attitudes and intentions towards help-seeking. We know attitudes and intentions can be poor predictors of actual behaviour, so this is a very novel and important study. Our results suggest that interventions should focus on increasing mental health literacy (i.e., increase elite athletes' awareness of mental health issues, symptoms, when and where to seek help) and reducing stigma. Timely help-seeking is important when managing mental health issues, and can help reduce the burden of poor mental health.

Dr Susanna Kola-Palmer
Department of Psychology, University of Huddersfield

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Help-Seeking for Mental Health Issues in Professional Rugby League Players, Frontiers in Psychology, September 2020, Frontiers,
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.570690.
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