Work on the innovative Sport in Mental Health Charter to promote mental health in the sporting community has begun.

The Charter, supported in conjunction with Sport SA, is an Australian-first and will be rolled out across South Australia’s sporting bodies to gain insights into the state of mental health among members and tailor programs to increase mental health literacy and support.

The first workshop to deliver the Charter to South Australian sporting bodies was held earlier this year, with more than 40 people in attendance representing all codes including AFL, SANFL, Adelaide Footy League, State netball leagues, baseball and more.

The session was facilitated by Crows General Manager of Strategy Nick McCardle and EY Partner, Strategy and Transactions Ben Bishop.

Breakthrough Executive Director John Mannion said he was grateful for the support from The Hospital Research Foundation Group to facilitate this important piece of work which included a $65,000 grant.

“The outcomes from the project will feed directly into other work that is being undertaken by Breakthrough to tackle mental health and wellbeing in the community,” Mr Mannion said.

“Sporting clubs are trusted voices in their communities and are an ideal vehicle to drive the message about mental health awareness and create awareness about the need for research to help eliminate mental illness.

“Sports clubs and codes have access to a lot of different information but it’s important to have a consistent approach across the board that is based in evidence so we can ensure we are providing the best tools and resources to all clubs across the state.”

Mental health in sport has been highlighted across the nation following the deaths of a handful of high-profile sportsmen and women in the past three years as sports struggle with a stop-start 2020 season due to the global pandemic.

Sport SA CEO Leah Cassidy said research and consultation across the sporting sector revealed SA sporting organisations, their staff and volunteers are “not aware or confident in identifying the needs of sports participants with mental health impacts and lack confidence and knowledge on how to manage sport participants with mental health challenges”.

Paul Flynn, CEO of THRF Group, said the organisation was proud to be teaming up with Breakthrough to evaluate the Charter for this vital area of healthcare.

“Sadly, we all know someone who is dealing with the impacts of mental health and our Group has a strong interest in supporting research and improved care in this area,” Mr Flynn said.

The funding will go towards the research component of the charter with Flinders University’s Professor Murray Drummond as Chief Investigator.