The role of community sports clubs in adolescent mental health: the perspectives of adolescent males’ parents

Diarmuid Hurley, Christian Swann, Mark S. Allen, Anthony D. Okely, Stewart A. Vella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Adolescent males are at relatively high risk of developing mental health disorders and show low rates of help seeking when mental health disorders arise. Parents are the primary source of support for adolescents and therefore have an important role in mental health promotion and prevention of mental health disorders. 

The aim of this study was to examine the perceptions of adolescent males’ parents on the potential role of community sport clubs in adolescent mental health promotion. Forty-six parents of adolescent males took part in 10 focus groups to investigate parents’ mental health knowledge, beliefs and attitudes, perceptions of the role of sport clubs in mental health promotion and disorder prevention, and factors that might promote or limit participation in (and effectiveness of) mental health-focused interventions. 

Thematic analysis revealed that parents had low levels of mental health literacy, were worried about the development of mental health disorders, but reported favourable attitudes towards receiving education on adolescent mental health. Parents also reported low confidence in their ability to discuss mental health with their adolescent and expressed mixed views on the role of the sport club in promoting positive mental health. These findings are considered in the context of developing mental health interventions that can maximise use of the unique youth sport environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-388
Number of pages17
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • intervention
  • mental health literacy
  • Mental health promotion
  • thematic analysis
  • youth sport


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