A RESEARCH project into the mental health of people working in the racing and equestrian industries in places, including Malton, is entering its final phase of data collection.

The research, which is being undertaken by Will McConn of Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), has been part-funded by the Racing Foundation.

The study, which started in February last year, 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.

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, Malton.

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 January 14, 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 February 22.

It will only take about 15 minutes to complete and it is hoped that as many people within horseracing fill it out as possible.

Racing Welfare’s director of welfare Simone Sear said: “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, added: “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.

“I would ask 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.”

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