AFL partners with VU into women’s sport study


Tara Murray

The AFL is joining forces with Victoria University in a landmark study to improve the mental health and wellbeing of female athletes.

The Commonwealth-funded national study will look into factors that impact mental health and wellbeing of women athletes.

Researchers from Victoria University’s Institute for Health and Sport are commencing a comprehensive study to assess and track the mental health and wellbeing of Australian women athletes in semi-professional and professional sports.

Evaluating the mental health and wellbeing of professional and semi-professional women athletes is a critical step to inform the future development of the systems, policies and programs needed to support mental health needs and promote wellbeing.

With more women’s sports seeing their players turn professional the need for programs and policies is growing.

Lead Investigator Professor Alex Parker said an examination of gender-specific stressors is necessary to address and improve the wellbeing of women athletes.

“The level of interest in this area is growing but there is still insufficient information available about the specific factors that impact the health and mental wellbeing of Australian women athletes,” he said.

AFL Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing Dr Kate Hall said the AFL shares VU’s commitment to growing the evidence base about the gender-specific needs of female athletes.

As part of the study, players from the AFLW competition and other sporting competitions will participate in a number of surveys and interviews to track their mental health and wellbeing.

Cross-sport and community norm comparisons will enable the identification of key areas of strength and concern as part of the study.

The information gathered will provide participating sports with valuable data to inform mental health strategies, policy improvements or service development models to improve the mental health and wellbeing of women athletes.