Development and Implementation of the National Mental Health Referral Network for Elite Athletes: A Case Study of the Australian Institute of Sport

in Case Studies in Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 Orygen
  • 2 University of Melbourne
  • 3 Australian Institute of Sport
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Awareness-raising and antistigma campaigns have sought to increase the acceptance of mental ill health across the general community and subpopulations of elite athletes. Nonetheless, gaps remain for models of clinical service provision. As cultural change prompts elite athletes toward more open and positive perceptions of help seeking, the number of athletes seeking evidence-based mental health intervention has been predicted to increase. In this context, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) established the national Mental Health Referral Network. The network comprises registered mental health professionals (psychologists) and is led by the AIS Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement branch. This case study describes the development and implementation of this network, including the service-provider procurement process and strategic consultation provided by Orygen. Details are provided for international bodies seeking to undertake similar initiatives. Reflections on program implementation highlight opportunities for expansion and data capture, informing future education-based initiatives.

Rice, Pennell, and Purcell are with Orygen, Parkville, VIC, Australia, and the Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Butterworth, Clements, Josifovski, Arnold, and Schwab are with the Australian Inst. of Sport, Canberra, Australia.

Rice (simon.rice@orygen.org.au) is corresponding author.
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