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Sunday, 18 November, 2018

BHA backing major study into mental health issues across whole racing industry

Dr Jerry Hill: "Sometimes the pressures can overwhelm people’s natural defences, causing mental and physical ill-health"
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A major new research study into the provision of mental health services across all parts of the racing industry has been launched.

The year-long study, which will draw on results from similar research in football, is being undertaken by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), Racing Welfare and the BHA, supported by the Racing Foundation.

It is expected to shape mental health help options for everyone involved in the racing industry.

The BHA claims this is the first piece of research that aims to fully understand the scope of mental health challenges faced by individuals across the sport.

A BHA statement read: "The study will include stud, stable and racecourse staff, groundsmen, jockeys and stalls handlers, as well as employers and other key stakeholders within the horseracing and breeding industry."

Britain’s racing industry has a reputation for low pay and long hours – both key factors in work-related stress.

'Physical and mental resilience'

BHA chief medical adviser Dr Jerry Hill said: "This is not merely a survey but will provide the foundations of a review of how we support those working in this challenging but exciting industry.

“Racing is a tough industry and requires physical and mental resilience from its participants whatever their role.

"Sometimes the pressures can overwhelm people’s natural defences, causing mental and physical ill-health.

“There can be a reluctance to acknowledge and seek help, particularly for mental health problems, which means planning appropriate support can be difficult.”

The project will be led by newly appointed LJMU postgraduate researcher Will McConn, who will be based at the LJMU School of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

McConn said: "In trying to make sense of the mental health demands within the industry the research will look at the breadth of issues the racing workforce face on a daily basis, and the depth of these issues, so we can begin to design more bespoke supportive services.

'Tangible strategies'

“The joined-up approach between LJMU, Racing Welfare and the BHA provides a great platform to develop the conversation around such wellbeing support.

"I'm really looking forward to working alongside those in the racing industry over the next year to develop tangible strategies that positively impact the lives of racing staff."

Project directors Dr Mark Nesti and Dr Martin Littlewood from the psychology and development research group at the Liverpool university are also involved in the study, bringing with them extensive experience of delivering sport psychology support in English professional football.

Hill added: “This project focuses on the psychological well-being of those working in racing and not exclusively those working in direct contact with horses.

“This has been as much an area for focus for the BHA and racing as a whole as advances made in prioritising the physical health of our equine and human athletes, and we expect to gain valuable insight into the realities of working in racing and how it affects mental well-being."

Last July the BHA published major research findings also involving LJMU into the well-being of jockeys, from nutritional to health issues.


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The study will include stud, stable and racecourse staff, groundsmen, jockeys and stalls handlers, as well as employers and other key stakeholders
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