Creating ‘safe spaces’ in sport

New research at Flinders will seek to improve the mental health of young Indigenous and non-Indigenous males in South Australia and the Northern Territory by focusing on the role of sporting clubs as “safe spaces” to promote mental health and wellbeing.

Professor Murray Drummond said sport could play a role in positive mental health through socialisation and engagement.

“Sport remains a significant rite of passage for males in Australian society and we have a culture of males passing through sporting clubs at early ages,” Prof Drummond explained.

“If we can make these often ‘masculinised’ sporting spaces, spaces for men to feel comfortable about addressing any health issues they have, then that’s going to provide them with such important support, and something that’s far beyond just a game of football or cricket.” Professor Drummond was grateful for support from the Freemasons Centre for Male Health and Wellbeing in expanding the focus on men’s health.

“The mental health and wellbeing of young males in particular is not being adequately addressed… they have a significant risk of self-harm and suicide, while those who identify as Indigenous and LGBTIQ are at even greater risk,” Prof Drummond said.

“Traditionally there’s been a big focus on medical research, but it’s wonderful the Centre is mirroring the cultural shift in society and taking a holistic approach to men’s health by looking at every facet of health and wellbeing and how that can be improved - including mental, emotional and physical health.”

Research category: Men and Boys’ Mental Health 

Project title: Young males, masculinity and mental health: attitudes, behaviours and education through sport  

Chief and Associate Investigators: Prof Murray Drummond (Flinders University) (Pictured), Prof James Smith (Menzies School of Health Research), Dr Sam Elliott (Flinders University), A/Prof Claire Drummond (Flinders University), Dr Ivanka Prichard (Flinders University)A/Prof Ben Wadham (Flinders University) 

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