Mental Health in Elite Sports

Led by Professor Rosemary Purcell, the Elite Sport and Mental Wellbeing Program helps sporting codes understand the prevalence and nature of mental health issues among athletes, coaches and staff, and strategies to improve mental health and wellbeing in elite sporting environments.


Elite professional sportspeople are susceptible to an array of stressors that make them vulnerable to mental health problems. These include physical (e.g. concussion, musculoskeletal or limb injury), psychosocial (e.g. public scrutiny, social media abuse, frequent travel from home and missing significant life events) and sport-related stressors (e.g. poor performance, competition for selection, early contract termination). The relatively young age of most professional and elite sportspeople also places them at risk, as the majority of mental health disorders emerge during adolescence and early adulthood.

Our researchers work with a range of elite and professional sporting codes to help them understand (via rigorous research methods):

  • ‚Äčthe prevalence and nature of mental health and wellbeing issues among athletes/players, coaches and other high performance staff;
  • key factors associated with (or 'predictors' of) mental health and wellbeing
  • optimal strategies to improve and maximise mental health and wellbeing in elite sporting environments


Our team also works with elite and professional sporting codes to provide evidence-based training on improving mental health literacy and building mental healthy workplaces, and developing frameworks for preventing and responding early to mental health issues in elite sporting settings.