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Help-seeking behaviours related to mental health symptoms in professional football
  1. Kaizeen Confectioner1,
  2. Alan Currie2,3,
  3. Nicolle Gabana4,
  4. Nienke van Gerven1,
  5. Gino M M J Kerkhoffs5,6,7,
  6. Vincent Gouttebarge1,5,6,8
  1. 1Football Players Worldwide (FIFPRO), Hoofddorp, The Netherlands
  2. 2Regional Affective Disorders Service, Cumbria, Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle, UK
  3. 3Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, The University of Sunderland, Sunderland, UK
  4. 4Athletic Department, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
  5. 5Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Amsterdam Movement Sciences, Meibergdreef 9, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  6. 6Amsterdam Collaboration on Health & Safety in Sports (ACHSS), Amsterdam UMC IOC Research Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  7. 7Academic Center for Evidence-based Sports Medicine (ACES), Amsterdam, Netherlands
  8. 8Section Sports Medicine, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Vincent Gouttebarge; v.gouttebarge{at}


Objectives The primary objective was to examine the attitudes of professional footballers towards help-seeking behaviours related to mental health symptoms and the impact of a mental health awareness video on these help-seeking behaviours. The secondary objective was to evaluate whether the mental health awareness video was feasible in professional football.

Methods A quasi-experimental study based on a one-group pretest post-test was conducted using a questionnaire. Attitude, help-seeking behaviours and confidence were measured with validated questionnaires, including the Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help-Short Form (ATSPPH-SF) and General Help-Seeking Questionnaire (GHSQ).

Results Sixty-five professional footballers (63% men; 37% women) were enrolled in the study. The mean ATSPPH-SF score was 18.1 at pretest and 19.4 at post-test (p=0.00). The mean GHSQ score was 47.6 at pretest and 48.9 at post-test (p=0.00). The level of confidence in helping someone experiencing mental health symptoms was 11.1 at pretest and 11.7 at post-test (p=0.00). All participants rated the mental health awareness video as relevant; 88% mentioned that it added value to raise awareness about mental health symptoms and disorders in professional football. Eighty-three per cent rated the design positively, 69% were positive about the duration of the video and 88% of participants reported an increase in their knowledge and understanding of mental health symptoms and disorders in professional football.

Conclusion The mental health awareness video led to a better attitude of professional footballers towards mental health. We recommend the mental health awareness video be implemented in professional football to disseminate essential information related to mental health symptoms in professional football.

  • mental
  • psychology
  • education
  • soccer

Data availability statement

No data are available. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplemental information.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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Data availability statement

No data are available. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplemental information.

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  • Contributors All authors were involved in the design of the study and data interpretation. VG was responsible for data collection and the data analysis. KC drafted the manuscript, with critical review provided by all authors. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research. Refer to the Methods section for further details.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.