Mental health interventions in non-elite sport: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Publication Name

International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology


Organised sport is a widely accessible context that can promote health and health behaviours among participants. For that reason, recent decades have brought forth a number of sport-based interventions aimed at improving mental health literacy and symptoms. Despite this trend, there has yet to be a systematic review and meta-analysis to synthesise and estimate the efficacy of published sport-based intervention studies in non-elite sport. Following a systematic search of the literature, we conducted seven independent meta-analyses to test the effect of sport-based interventions on mental health outcomes (depression, anxiety, psychological distress, and wellbeing) and mental health literacy (stigmatising attitudes, knowledge of mental health, and help-provision). A total of 19 articles reporting 47 distinct effect sizes revealed moderate to strong favourable effects of interventions on stigmatising attitudes, knowledge of mental health, and help-provision. Small favourable effects were detected for anxiety, psychological distress, and wellbeing. Finally, sport-based interventions had no significant synthesised effect on depressive symptoms. Although we comment on the need for stronger intervention designs, the field can be optimistic with respect to the mental health literacy findings from the current study and their potential downstream effects on mental health symptoms.

Open Access Status

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