Sport for mental health: A global strengths-based change system

Corrine Reid, Liz Grant, Grant Jarvie, Gretchen Kerr, Camilla Brockett, Jennifer Morris, Davies Banda, Andrew Murray, Mohammed Almuhannadi, Katherine Tamminen, Claudia Reardon, Kaitlin Simpson

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


To turn the tide of the global mental health pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan (CMHAP) (2013–2030) highlights the importance of accessible and context- relevant mental health responses, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).1

This report identifies sport as a unique exemplar of a globally powerful, yet locally adaptive, community-embedded implementation model that can improve mental health. Sport has unmatched global reach and the power to unify people and cultures through a universal language. Sport can support health systems under pressure, while strengthening communities.

Section 1 presents the evidence of how sport positively impacts mental health.
Section 2 describes how the scale of the global mental health pandemic can be best addressed by catalyzing sport as a potent mech- anism for tackling social and ecological determinants of mental health.
Section 3 focuses on elite athletes and how to create mental health ecosystems that are fit for purpose when facing challenging conditions.

We set out a vision for sporting organizations and communities, sporting ambassadors (whether elite athletes or local club representatives), and sporting events to turn the tide of the mental health crisis through lead- ership and mass mobilization.

This report is solution-focused, prioritizing evidence-based recommendations for innovation and ethical best prac- tice. The report has been actively shaped and influenced by an advisory panel of elite athletes, leaders in sporting organizations, practitioners and researchers.

The report concludes with recommendations for prioritizing sport as a mental health response with the scale to help achieve WHO’s Triple Billions goals for health and wellbeing, as well as helping to deliver the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development 2030 Agenda.

We hope that policymakers, practitioners, athletes and researchers find this guid- ance helpful in creating virtuous circles of action to tackle mental health within sports organizations, and through sporting platforms.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationQatar
PublisherQatar Foundation- World Innovation Summit for Health
Number of pages61
ISBN (Print)9781913991289
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2022


  • sport
  • mental health
  • climate change


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