LJMU to lead major study into mental health issues in the horseracing industry

University researchers will work with Racing Welfare and the British Horseracing Authority to undertake a major research project into the provision of mental health services across the sector

Horseracing can be a stressful industry for everyone who works within it


Britain’s horseracing industry has a reputation for low pay and long hours – both key factors in work-related stress.

Now researchers at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), Racing Welfare and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) are to undertake a major study into the provision of mental health services across the sector.

This is the study that aims to fully understand the scope of mental health related challenges faced by individuals working across the full range of roles within racing.

The study will include stud staff, stable staff, racecourse staff, groundsmen, jockeys and stalls handlers as well as employers and other key people involved within the horseracing and breeding industry.

It is expected that the results will shape the future mental health provision across the racing industry.

The work is due to start in the next few weeks and will be led by newly appointed LJMU postgraduate researcher Will McConn who will be based at the LJMU School of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

He said: “In trying to make sense of the mental health demands within the industry, the research will look at the breadth of issues the racing workforce face on a daily basis, and the depth of these issues so we can begin to design more bespoke supportive services.

“The joined up approach between LJMU, Racing Welfare, and the BHA provides such a great platform to developing the conversation around such well-being support.

“I am really looking forward to working alongside those in the racing industry over the next year to develop tangible strategies that positively impact the lives of racing staff.”

People employed in racing often have to work long hours for low pay


Project Directors Dr Mark Nesti and Dr Martin Littlewood from the Psychology & Development Research Group (PaD) at LJMU are also involved in the study, bringing with them extensive experience of delivering sport psychology support in English Professional League football.

The LJMU team understands that working in the racing industry brings unique stresses that are not always fully understood by the outside world, especially beyond other professional sports.

This research should help make sure that support can be targeted where it is most needed and in a way that is accessible to all.

Chief medical advisor at BHA, Dr Jerry Hill, added: “Racing is a tough industry and requires physical and mental resilience from its participants whatever their role.

Sometimes the pressures can overwhelm people’s natural defences causing mental and physical ill-health.

“There can be a reluctance to acknowledge and seek help particularly for mental health problems, which means planning appropriate support can be difficult.”

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