Alexandra Parker is the Executive Director, Institute for Health & Sport and a professor of Physical Activity and Mental Health in the Institute at Victoria University. Alex leads a multidisciplinary research group that aims to measure, understand, and promote physical activity to optimise mental wellbeing and prevent and treat mental illness. Her research aims to maximise the potential of physical activity in achieving better clinical outcomes, improved functioning and wellbeing in those at risk of, or experiencing, mental health problems. Alex is also a practising clinical psychologist specialising in youth mental health.
Researchers from Victoria University’s Institute for Health and Sport are commencing a comprehensive study to assess and track the mental health and wellbeing of Australian women athletes in semi-professional and professional sports.
“Examining gender-specific stressors is necessary to address and improve the wellbeing of women athletes. The level of interest in this area is growing but there is still insufficient information available about the specific factors that impact the health and mental wellbeing of Australian women athletes,” said Lead Investigator Professor Alex Parker.
Evaluating the mental health and wellbeing of professional and semi-professional women athletes is a critical step to inform the future development of the systems, policies and programs needed to support mental health needs and promote wellbeing.
“The AFL shares VU’s commitment to growing the evidence base about the gender-specific needs of female athletes and information collected from this landmark longitudinal study will help us identify and respond to the wellbeing needs of our AFLW players”, said Dr Kate Hall, AFL Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Over the next 12 months, women athletes from the AFL Women’s Competition and other sporting organisations will participate in a number of surveys and interviews to track their mental health and wellbeing. Cross-sport and community norm comparsions will enable the identification of key areas of strength and concern. The information gathered will provide participating sports with valuable data to inform mental health strategies, policy improvements or service development models to improve the mental health and wellbeing of women athletes.