The mental health of young people in youth sport has received growing academic attention and sporting clubs are identified as important settings for prevention and early intervention. Despite this, very few studies have explored the perceptions of multiple stakeholders about youth sporting clubs as spaces for mental health awareness, education, and training. The purpose of the study was to understand the capacity of youth sporting clubs 1 to become a site for general mental health support and explore parents, coaches, club leaders and youth participants perceptions about their sporting club’s readiness for mental health awareness, education, and training initiatives. Using an Interpretive Description (ID) research methodology, 26 participants (parents, youth, club leaders/coaches) involved in community-level youth sport participated in a qualitative telephone interview. Data was analyzed thematically, leading to the construction of three themes about the barriers for building and maintaining a culture of mental health support in youth sport: (a) initial resistance, (b) teething issues and (c) turbulence. The themes reflected perceptions about varying levels of club readiness for meaningfully supporting positive mental health and indicated that many youth sporting clubs may find it difficult to sustain long-term, positive change. The study suggests that while sport can be a promising avenue to promote positive mental health, it is not without multiple forms of resistance, which if not navigated, may discourage efforts to establish and maintain club settings as sites for mental health, education, awareness, and first aid training. Implications for the field are discussed.  Lay Summary: Parents, youth sport participants and club leaders/coaches were interviewed for the purpose of understanding their views of youth sporting clubs’ capacity to become a site for mental health support. The thematic findings suggest that clubs are differentially equipped to support meaningful cultural change surrounding mental health and sport.PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Clubs seeking to become a site for mental health support encounter various barriers and therefore display differential levels of “readiness” for change. To meaningfully and sustainably create clubs that support mental health, additional intervention methods are necessary to support mental health education, awareness-raising activities and first aid training in youth sport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-462
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Applied Sport Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date31 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Youth sport
  • Mental health
  • Support networks
  • Cultural change
  • Sporting organisations


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