Ruby Walsh launches mental health app with IHRB after being upset by report
Ruby Walsh and the senior medical officer of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, Dr Jennifer Pugh, have launched a groundbreaking mental health app for jockeys.
Leafyard, a mental health app for professional and amateur jockeys, provides tools, activities and support to help with any general mental health concerns and was developed by the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund with the support of the IHRB.
The Leafyard app was piloted among jockeys this summer following research commissioned by the IHRB in 2019/2020 into the prevalence of mental health difficulties among jockeys, producing significant results when compared to other sports.
Injured jockeys were 46 times more likely to meet the criteria for depression than non-injured jockeys and reported higher levels of dissatisfaction, which is associated with distress and generalised anxiety.
The development of the Leafyard app also included key contributions from sport psychology consultant Dr Cíara Losty.
Walsh admitted to being upset by the results of the IHRB survey and described the app as a tool for riders to help deal with the highs and lows of the profession.
The former champion jockey said: "I suppose I wasn't shocked when I saw the results of the survey the IHRB commissioned. I've been around in the racing world long enough to see the highs and the lows, so whilst it didn't shock me, it did upset me.
"After consultation with Dr Pugh and Cíara Losty, the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund were happy to fund the Leafyard app, which I think is an innovative, action-driven, practical solution to support everyone in the weigh room."
Dr Jennifer Pugh expects massive uptake on the new app and added: "When Ruby tabled a radical new mental health solution, the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund in conjunction with the IHRB were quick to respond.
"In the first 24 hours we recorded an amazing 24 per cent uptake – we've never seen a reaction like this before or anticipated such success and 88 per cent of jockeys who registered continue to use the Leafyard app."
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