07:57am Tuesday 10 December 2019

Sporting moustaches for vital mental health research

And no, we’re not having an eclectic garage sale. We’re talking moustaches.

Stewart Vella and Tony Okely

Dr Stewart Vella, a sports psychology researcher at UOW’s Early Start Research Institute, is leading an enthusiastic team of staff and students in growing moustaches to help raise funds for the Movember Foundation this November.

Dr Vella recently received $2million from the Movember Foundation, the leading global organisation committed to changing the face of men’s health, for an Australian first study that uses sport to help reduce depression and suicide in young men.

The project will see him partnering with Australia’s leading government sports body the Australian Sports Commission, and top sporting organisations, such as the AFL, Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia and Swimming Australia, to provide clubs with the tools they need to support their young members who are grappling with depression and suicidal thoughts. 

In growing his own ‘Mo’, Dr Vella hopes to raise support for this important mental health research.

Dr Vella is encouraging UOW staff and students to sign up to team ‘U-Mo-W’ or to give a donation to help support this research and to assist Movember in funding the project.

“Our aim with this study is to reduce the suicide rate among adolescent males, provide strong social and community networks, and reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems,” Dr Vella said.

Dr Vella has become a leading authority in the development of social and emotional skills through organised youth sports, and was the first to identify that children who drop out of organised sports have a far greater risk of mental health problems, than those who continue to participate. 

According to the World Health Organisation young men and boys represent the group at highest risk of mental health problems and suicide in developed countries such as Australia.

“Intervention during adolescence is critical as half of all psychological disorders occur before the age of 14,” Dr Vella said.

With 14 per cent of all Australian children and adolescents currently having a mental health issue, Dr Vella said it’s time for action.

“It is a worrying statistic and the cost of this alone to the Australian Government is more than $10 million each year, not to mention the emotional costs on Australian families.”

More information: Support team ‘U-Mo-W’

Media contact: Elise Pitt, Media & PR Officer, UOW, +61 2 4221 3079, +61 422 959 953 or epitt@uow.edu.au.

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