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Australian Institute of Sport

Mental Health Referral Network

Support for high performance athletes and eligible individuals within the sports system who have mental health or wellbeing concerns

AIS Mental Health Referral Network Evaluation

* Please note that this evaluation is now closed, findings will be made available in the coming months.

The AIS Mental Health Referral Network (MHRN) is a group of expert psychologists and mental health clinicians who understand the pressures and complexity of life in a high performance (HP) setting.

The MHRN provides free psychological and other supports to athletes, coaches and staff in the HP system.

The MHRN was launched in 2018. The AIS has engaged Orygen and The University of Melbourne to conduct an independent evaluation of the service, to better understand the needs and experiences of people who use it, including how the service can be improved. The evaluation will help shape the continued delivery of a high-quality mental health support system in elite sport.

Athletes, coaches and high performance staff who have used the MHRN and are aged 18 years and older will be invited to participate in an anonymous online survey about their experience with the service (including accessing the MHRN and satisfaction with it). The survey takes 10-15 minutes to complete. Participants who want to provide more detailed information will also have the option to take part in an online interview (around 50-60 mins) and will be reimbursed for their time.

All eligible participants (people who have used the MHRN, aged 18 years and older) will be sent a text message with a link to the survey by 29 November 2021.

The MHRN is one of the first services of its kind in the world, focusing on expert mental health support in the context of elite sport. Taking part in the survey will help the AIS to better understand the needs of athletes, coaches and high performance staff using the service, which will help the AIS to build a more tailored, responsive system. The survey provides an opportunity for people who have used the MHRN to provide feedback on what works and what can be improved to better meet their needs.

The brief survey can be completed on a mobile phone, tablet or computer, and is anonymous (you cannot be identified and don’t need to give your name).

AIS/Orygen MHRN Evaluation Frequently Asked Questions

From 29 November 2021.

This evaluation of the MHRN will help the AIS to better understand the mental health and wellbeing needs of athletes, high performance directors, coaches, and support staff. It will help to inform the continuous improvement of the AIS MHRN.

The AIS has engaged an independent service evaluation, to be conducted by the University of Melbourne and Orygen’s Elite Sports and Mental Health team.

All past and present users of the AIS MHRN, aged 18 years and older.

The online survey takes approximately 10-15 minutes to complete and is anonymous (you cannot be identified or need to give your name).

Athletes, coaches, and support staff who complete the survey can also register their interest to participate in a longer interview if they wish to provide more detailed feedback. The interview will be confidential (the researchers will know your name, but they will not share your details in any way with anyone or identify you as having taken part in the interview). Participants will be reimbursed $100 for their time in the 50-60 mins online interview.

On 29 November 2021, all past and present users of the AIS MHRN will be sent a link to the survey via text message. This link will be sent by a member of the AIS wellbeing and engagement team. When you click the link, you will be taken to the secure online survey, which is hosted by Orygen.

The survey includes multiple choice questions and open-ended questions and asks about your demographics (nothing that could identify you), accessing the MHRN service, your satisfaction with the services and your views about its effectiveness, and your overall impressions about the support you received. You do not have to answer any questions that you do not want to and taking part is voluntary.

No, the evaluation is completely anonymous, and no information will be collected that will be identifiable. Your name is not required, and your responses cannot be linked to you or your contact information. While the evaluation asks about demographic characteristics such as your gender, age, and how long you have been in the high performance environment, the Orygen researchers will not share any information with the AIS that could potentially identify any individual (for example, not providing an age range of participants if that could identify a person).

For athletes or other participants with visual impairment or English literacy challenges, the AIS athlete wellbeing and engagement team will provide information about the survey via national sporting organisations (NSOs), and any individuals who wish to participate will be invited to contact the Orygen researchers (without providing identifying information) to complete the survey via a phone interview. A member of the research team will directly input the data into the online survey on the individual’s behalf.

Participants who wish to take part in the interview will be asked to further elaborate on their experiences with the MHRN. This will include questions about accessing the MHRN support (e.g., in person or via tele-health options), your experience of the clinician(s) and the support provided, and areas for service improvement. Interviews will be conducted on Zoom and will be recorded and transcribed to ensure the researchers capture the participants’ views and experiences (rather than interpret what’s been said). Although some topics discussed in the interview may be sensitive, you can choose not to answer any questions.

Athletes, coaches, and staff who participate in an interview will be reimbursed (via direct bank transfer) for their time.

There is no research to suggest that reading about or talking about mental health or wellbeing can lead to an episode of mental ill-health. The researchers who  will conduct the interviews are all registered psychologists who have experience with interviews in elite sport and will be sensitive to and mindful of the needs of interview participants.

If you do experience any distress or would like to find out options for further support, you can contact the lead Orygen researchers Professor Rosemary Purcell (0412 086 155; or A/Professor Simon Rice (0419 497 599;, who are both registered psychologists.

The AIS will be responsible for how you are informed of the overall service evaluation findings, but they will not have access to any of the survey data collected. Only the researchers from Orygen/the University of Melbourne will have access to the data and these researchers are bound by ethics. The Orygen researchers will analyse the evaluation data and provide a written report to the AIS that summarises the main findings and key recommendations.

The AIS will be responsible for communicating the results of the MHRN evaluation to participants, including distributing a short summary of the key findings.

The data will be stored on Orygen’s password-protected secure server. Only the Orygen researchers who are approved to work on the evaluation will be able to access the data.

Data will be stored for 5 years after the completion of the evaluation project, consistent with standard ethics requirements.

No. The survey is anonymous, and no MHRN clinician or member of the AIS staff can access any data from the survey or the interviews.

No. Aggregate/summary data from surveys and interviews will be used to inform the ongoing improvement of the MHRN, but no individual-level data will be used for decision-making related to individual athletes, coaches, or staff.

Find out more

For more information about the MHRN evaluation, email

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