Industry study reveals pressures on jockeys

Findings were revealed in an industry-wide report launched at Windsor racecourse on Monday by Racing Welfare

Photo: George Selwyn

Over 86% of jockeys are either experiencing stress, anxiety or depression – that is one of the findings revealed by a study into the mental health of those working within the British horseracing industry.

The figures were published in a report commissioned by Racing Welfare and launched on Monday afternoon at Windsor racecourse. Will McConn, postgraduate researcher at Liverpool John Moore’s University’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, was part of the team that conducted the research on behalf of the charity.

Conducted over the course of 2018, the report also found that 79.25% of those working at studs, 74.55% of trainers, 71.99% of stable staff and 62.74% of wider racing staff were also experiencing stress, anxiety or depression.

The data presented in the report was based on information collected through face-to-face interviews, a questionnaire taken by over 1,500 people and focus groups. McConn used a presentation to delegates attending the launch to urge horseracing to carry on the momentum it has built with its mental health work.

He said: “This is only the start of a dialogue about how mental health support moves forward.”

The report also included priority recommendations for horseracing such as an inclusive mental health stakeholder forum and strategy that would commit to supporting mental health in the long term.

It also recommended that in order to embed a mental health and wellbeing within the industry, a leadership development programme that focuses on the moral and practical implications of mis-management around workforce health, will look to enhance productivity through employee satisfaction as well as robust structures and processes.

Other recommendations included a review of the fixture list in relation to the workforce capacity it services, a review of injury and pain management systems in relation to mental health, inclusive provision beyond the racing centres, risk assessments relating to workplace stress, plus increased awareness and support around working time regulations.

The report said: “It was noted by respondents and those interviewed that racing is a relentless industry which, for many, has intensified over the last number of years. Such a pace may be unsustainable psychologically for a number of sectors and individuals within the racing fraternity.

“There are, however, good initiatives and ideas already in place, and with greater collaboration, strategic direction, and open dialogue these structures can be expanded to offset many of the current themes and concerns raised in this report.”

BHA Executive Director, Will Lambe, commented on the report’s findings and said: “The British Horseracing Authority, as the sport’s governing body, welcomes the publication of this important report. It is essential that the sport shines a light on what is a major societal issue, and better understands how it impacts on the British racing and breeding industry.

“Throughout its leadership and full workforce the BHA is entirely committed to playing its part in tackling this issue, and it is for this reason that the BHA was keen to support this project from the outset.

“It is very important that everyone in racing should focus on the content of this report and understand and consider the implications for their own area. There are some stark findings, and the report clearly highlights that steps need to be taken to better support the mental health of our participants and diverse workforce.

“Different parts of our industry face different – and sometimes competing – challenges, and as ever the industry must work together to deliver a strategy which meets the varied needs of everyone within the sport.”

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