Lack of psychological support for injured players deemed 'neglectful'

FOOTBALL clubs are being “deficient, neglectful and possibly negligent” because of inadequate psychological support for injured players, a study has found.

Dr Misia Gervis, post graduate courses director at Brunel University and a consultant sports psychologist at QPR, led the research, which was backed by the Professional Footballers’ Association.

Medical heads from 75 clubs were interviewed, including 14 from Premier League sides. Of these, only 37% said they employed staff who were trained in the psychology of injury, and less than 25% had a full-time sports psychologist.

TGG has been unable to obtain a breakdown by division, or by category of Academy, however.

The report states that there is “overwhelming evidence” that injured players are more susceptible to serious mental health problems. Yet the duty of care clubs show to injured players is deemed to be "deficient, neglectful and possibly negligent”, with players left “vulnerable to experiencing problematic rehabilitations, problems with future performance, an increased risk of injury, not returning to competitive sport and triggering or uncovering mental health issues”.

“A lack of support mechanisms may be explained by a lack of training of medical staff … and a culture within football where psychological support is stigmatised and not understood," the report adds.

Without change, it was concluded that many players “will remain unprotected and vulnerable to the numerous negative psychological consequences of injury”.

Even when clubs did screen for psychological issues, the majority looked for signs of anxiety, depression and fear of re-injury, when research had shown that a broader range of problems could be triggered by long-term injury.

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