This year Black Dog Institute is partnering with the Early Start Research Institute at the University of Wollongong on a new research initiative funded by the Movember Foundation called Ahead of the Game. Targeting adolescent male mental health, the program will roll out through community sports clubs in the Illawarra region across six of the most popular sports in Australia: AFL, football, basketball, cricket, swimming and tennis.
The research will assess whether this multi-level intervention recruiting athletes, coaches and parents at community clubs can improve mental health, wellbeing, and help-seeking, while also reducing stigma and risks to mental health. A major component of the project is an evaluation of a new online tool. Based on Black Dog’s BITE BACK program for young people, the new Ahead of the Game e-mental health app will use a six-week challenge to help adolescent male athletes develop skills across the following areas: peak performance, mindfulness, goal setting, cultivating challenge and confidence.
It’s expected that the app will contribute to gains in sports performance, wellbeing and player retention. Given that adolescents who drop out of sport are at increased risk of a mental health diagnosis two years later, this innovative new e-mental health approach is both timely and an exciting new approach to mental health in a community setting.
To find out more about the project, visit: www.aheadofthegame.org.au
Or you can follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AOTGUOW
By Dr Andrea Fogarty
Andrea is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working in Translational Research at Black Dog Institute.