Racing Welfare’s Mental Health Survey reaches it’s penultimate stage

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Issued: 16th December 2018


Racing Welfare’s mental health research project reaches penultimate stage


Industry wide mental health research, commissioned by Racing Welfare in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University, has now reached its final phase of data collection.  The full report of findings and recommendations will be published by Racing Welfare in May 2019.


The research, which is being undertaken by Will McConn of Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), has been part funded by a grant from The Racing Foundation. Having commenced in February of 2018, the study focuses on the relationship between an individual’s mental health and industrial practices in horseracing.  The research explores how these practices potentially enhance health and wellbeing for the benefit of all those working in racing.  The aim is to gain an overall understanding of mental wellbeing within the industry, looking at a full spectrum of issues from low mood and stress, clinically diagnosed conditions, right through to how good mental health is experienced.


The research has been structured across four phases, two of which have been completed so far. The first phase revolved around reviewing the current scientific knowledge and research that already exists.  From there, Will and the team at LJMU developed focus groups and interviews tailored specifically to examine how working life in racing impacts a person’s mental health. Between July and November, 130 individuals were consulted and participated through interviews and focus groups.  Those taking part included trainers, stable staff, jockeys, stud workers, racing secretaries, and representatives from various industry bodies.  In order to achieve as wide a geographical reach as possible, data collection took place around the main UK horse racing centres including Dorset, Somerset, Lambourn, Epsom, Newmarket, Malton, Middleham and the Scottish Borders.


The third phase of the research focuses on gaining a wider understanding of the topics raised within the interviews and focus groups.  To achieve this, a survey has been designed to allow anyone working in the horseracing industry to take part.  The survey looks at areas around employment, working conditions, health, service provision and professional development.  It will go live on the 14th of January and can be accessed and completed online; the link will be made available on Racing Welfare’s website and social channels.  The survey is completely confidential and will remain open for five weeks until the 22nd February.  It will only take around 15 minutes to complete and it is hoped that as many people within horseracing fill it out as possible.


The final report, including findings and recommendations, will be available to the public from Monday the 13th of May, coinciding with the start of Mental Health Awareness Week 2019.


Racing Welfare’s Director of Welfare, Simone Sear, said “Racing Welfare is committed to supporting the mental wellbeing of everyone working in or retired from the horseracing industry.  Positive mental health enables people to reach their full potential, work productively, cope with life’s stressors and contribute to their communities.  This ground-breaking research will enable Racing Welfare, and the wider horseracing industry, to make evidence based decisions in order to develop bespoke mental health support services that are fully accessible to everyone in racing.”


LMJU postgraduate researcher, Will McConn, said In asking people to discuss their mental health we were aware from the outset that it can be a sensitive topic. We therefore made no assumptions at the start on how many would engage in discussing such health. The response though was fantastic and continues to be so. From speaking to those in racing there is a strong understanding that life can be quite tough sometimes, in lots of different ways. However, they have also spoken about a thriving mental health based around passion, partnership, and inclusion. The aim of the upcoming survey then will focus, of course, on what extra is needed, but will also help select and increase many of the good practices and ideas that are already within the industry. I would ask then for as many people as possible to complete the survey, irrespective of where you feel your health is at, to help maximise the enjoyment that the racing workforce obtains from being involved in their sport.”




Press contact: Felicity Marshall 07966 296 838;


Notes to Editors


Racing Welfare

Racing Welfare is the only charity that supports all people who work in racing – including stud, stable and racecourse staff, alongside those working in associated professions – from their recruitment right through into retirement. The charity provides a wide range of advice and guidance services, all of which are completely confidential and non-judgemental.  Support is available for a wide range of life’s challenges, including accidents, bereavement, career advice, housing, money advice, illness, addiction, relationships and retirement. Racing Welfare’s services are nationally accessible with offices in the main racing centres and roving Welfare Officers covering the whole of the country. Racing’s Support Line, a multi-channel helpline allows people to contact the charity online as well as through a 24hr telephone line. Website:


Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU)

The research on mental health in being conducted through LJMU’s School of Sport & Exercise Sciences. The school was the first institution in the world to host a single honours degree programme in sport science back in 1975. It continues to be at the forefront of development and innovation in sport and exercise sciences and is regularly recognised as a world-leading department. The School was recently named the 9th best department in the world and the sixth best in Europe in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) 2018 for the sports sciences subject area. Students entering the School are taught first to understand and then challenge and enhance existing theory, research and practice aligned to, or influenced by, sport, physical activity, exercise and health. The focus therefore is on developing research-led and employability-focused experience where students are challenged yet thoroughly supported. Website: Twitter: @LJMUSportSci



The Racing Foundation          

The Racing Foundation was established in January 2012 to oversee the distribution of funds to charitable causes within racing following the sale of the Tote. The British Horseracing Authority, the Horsemen’s Group and Racecourse Association are the three joint Members of the charity, which is registered with the Charity Commission as a charity under the law of England and Wales (no. 1145297). The Trustees of the Racing Foundation are: Ian Barlow (Chairman), Linda Bowles, Susannah Gill, Mark Johnston, Jane Keir and William Rucker. Since inception, the Racing Foundation has granted just over £13million to charities associated with the horseracing and Thoroughbred breeding industry in the UK, supporting work in social welfare, education, training and participation, horse welfare, equine science research, and heritage and culture. Website: Twitter:@RacingGrants