Move for Mental Health

University of Wollongong researchers have teamed up with The Movember Foundation to address mental health issues among adolescent men who play sport.

The UOW Movember program brings together some of Australia’s top sporting organisations, such as Cricket Australia, the AFL, Basketball Australia, Swimming Australia, Football Federation Australia, and Tennis Australia, to examine how to prevent and solve mental health issues among young men who take part in their clubs. 

It is the first study of its kind to take such a comprehensive approach to this critical issue, with up to 5000 adolescent males and 100 sporting clubs across Australia expected to take part in the research. 

Researcher Dr Stewart Vella, a sports psychologist in UOW’s Early Start Research Institute, says the project will address such issues as depression and suicide risks, which have a higher prevalence among adolescent men. 

Dr Vella says the collaboration with Movember, which has granted UOW $2 million for the study over the next three years, would enable the research to make a far-reaching impact in the lives of young sportsmen. 

“Both the suicide rate and rates of mental health problems are reasonably high among young Australian men – certainly much higher than we would like,” Dr Vella says. 

“This means they are a vulnerable population. We are passionate about trying to help young males build important skills and support systems that will enable improved mental health in a safe and motivating environment.”



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The Team

The UOW Movember Project brings together researchers from across disciplines, government agencies and Australia’s top sporting organisations. Some of Australia’s top sporting organisations will work with the researchers to help implement the mental health initiative into their clubs across the nation, including the AFL, Basketball Australia, Cricket Australia, Swimming Australia, Football Federation Australia, and Tennis Australia.

  • Dr Stewart Vella is a sports psychologist based in theEarly Start Research Institute at UOW
  • Professor Tony Okely is Director of the Early Start Research Institute at UOW 
  • Dr Simon Eckermann is Professor in Health Economics and member of the Australian Health Services Research Institute at UOW
  • Professor Frank Deane is Director of the Illawarra Institute for Mental Health at UOW
  • Dr Erika Borkoles and Professor Remco Polman, from Victoria University
  • Professor Stewart Trost, Queensland University of Technology
  • Associate Professor Chris Lonsdale and Professor Sandra Jones from the Australian Catholic University

The project will also encompass the expertise of the Black Dog Institute, which focuses on the prevention and treatment of mood disorders; the Australian Sports Commission; and the Australian Drug Foundation’s Good Sports Program, which provides free support to sporting clubs to change their culture and reduce high risk drinking. 

This project is working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing    Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals