Skip to content
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 Audit 2020

The AIS conducts research to ensure the programs offered to high performance athletes, coaches and staff effectively support their mental health and wellbeing.

We would like to thank everyone for their support and participation in the AIS Mental Health Audit 2020.

The survey has now closed and we look forward to sharing the results of the Audit when they are available towards the end of the year.

The results will provide valuable insights to help us better understand and meet the mental health and wellbeing needs of athletes, coaches and support staff.

If you have any questions about the Audit, please email

When is it happening?

The survey is now closed. Results will be released towards the end of 2020.

Why participate?

Participating in the 2020 Audit will directly benefit all athletes, coaches and staff because it helps the AIS to build a more tailored system that better supports performance.

The survey will only take 10 - 15 minutes for coaches/25 - 30 minutes for athletes and can be completed on a mobile phone. Survey responses are anonymous.

All eligible athletes, coaches and staff will be sent a text message with a link to the survey by 16 March 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions

This survey will help the AIS to better understand the mental health and wellbeing needs of all athletes, high performance directors, coaches and support staff. This will include factors associated with optimal wellbeing. This data will help underpin the expertise required for the AIS National Mental Health Referral Network. It will also inform what is needed to build on mental health education programs for Australian elite and talent pathway sports. We first conducted this survey in 2018 and the results led to the expansion of the AIS Mental Health Referral Network to all categorised athletes, high performance coaches and staff in the daily training environment and we added more mental health specialities as well (psychiatry, neuropsychology, disordered eating specialty on top of the psychology services that were already available). The more views we get from people across elite sport, the better we can provide for everyone’s needs.

The AIS in collaboration with Orygen, Australia’s largest mental health research centre, and The University of Melbourne.

The survey will open on Monday 16 March. We are encouraging as many people as possible to complete the survey on 16 March in a “census night” approach. Some sports are particularly busy during this period so special arrangements have been made to extend the open period as required.

All NSO identified/categorised athletes aged 16 years and over who are currently included on the AIS categorisation list (updated January 2020). High performance directors, coaches and staff in the daily training environment (as identified by their NSO and NIN) are also invited to participate.

All categorised athletes, high performance directors, coaches and staff in the daily training environment are encouraged to respond. Even if you think ‘but I don’t have any mental health issues’, we need to hear that too, because otherwise the results may not be reflective of what is actually needed. The data collected will inform the resources and programs that are available from the AIS to athletes and staff in the daily training environment.

The online survey takes no more than 25 minutes to complete for athletes and 15 minutes for staff. It is anonymous. It asks about your demographic characteristics (nothing that could identify you), your current mental health and wellbeing (e.g. symptoms of anxiety, depression, sleep, what you do to stay well, how supported you feel at work and in life). You don’t have to answer any questions that you don’t want to and taking part is voluntary.

During March all NSO identified/categorised athletes aged 16 years and over, high performance directors, coaches and staff in the daily training environment will be sent a link to the survey via text or email. When you click the link you will be taken to the survey, which is hosted on Orygen’s secure server.

Your responses will be saved as you go along and you can return to the survey by clicking on the original link. You’ll be taken directly back to the most recent section that you had completed and you can continue from there (i.e. you don’t have to start again).

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

The youngest athletes invited to complete the survey are 16 years old.  If you are 16 years old you do not need parental consent.

The survey is not available for athletes who are 15 years and under, as some survey items will not be applicable or suitable to younger athletes, and independent consent cannot be assumed or provided.

The survey will focus on current or recent symptoms related to anxiety, depression, psychological distress, body image, alcohol and other substance use, as well as other factors like sleep, what helps you to stay well, sources of support and attitudes to mental health and wellbeing.

No. This survey cannot ‘diagnose’ any mental health or wellbeing difficulties. Instead, it focuses on understanding whether or not athletes, coaches and staff experience symptoms relating to their mental health and wellbeing, and what factors are associated with optimal mental health and wellbeing.

No, the survey is anonymous. Your name is not required and your responses cannot be linked to you. While the survey does ask about characteristics such as your gender, age, relationship status and your NSO/sport, the Orygen researchers will not report anything that could potentially identify an athlete (e.g. age ranges will not be provided as these could potentially identify youngest or oldest athletes in a sport) or a staff member (e.g. results from specific staff positions where there are only one or very few people in that position within that sport will not be reported on specifically as they would be highly identifiable).

The data will be stored on a secure server at Oygen in Melbourne. It will be password protected and only accessible by the Orygen researchers approved to work on this survey.

For a minimum of 5 years, consistent with standard ethics requirements.

No, neither individual sports nor the AIS will have access to the data. As the survey is anonymous individuals cannot be identified.

Yes, individual sports can work with the AIS and Orygen to negotiate a sport-specific report, provided there is an adequate number of responses. Any reports will protect the anonymity of participants.

No. As the survey is anonymous, ASADA cannot request access to the survey data.



Yes. The overall group based research findings will be published in a report and may be used in research papers written by Orygen and or the AIS. It is important to note that all of the data collected is anonymous and can in no way be linked back to an individual athlete or staff member. Only large scale group data will be used in any published material.

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.

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

We do not expect that taking part in the survey will cause you any distress, based on Orygen’s experience of implementing this survey in 2018 with the AIS, and similar surveys with other Australian professional sporting codes. However, you may consider some of the questions about your current mental health potentially sensitive. It is your choice if you would like to skip any of the questions, or not take part in the survey.

If you do experience any distress or would like to find out options for further support, you can contact the lead Orygen researchers, or the AIS Mental Health Referral Network at for confidential help or support. If you are currently overseas, the Mental Health Referral Network email can provide the most timely response.

The following are contact details of helplines or online services for confidential support:

Lifeline 13 11
MensLine1300 78 99
eheadspace (under 26 yrs)1800 650
Relationships Australia1300 364
Family Relationship Advice1800 050 321N/A
AIS Mental Health Referral Network(02) 6214

Find out more

For more information on the AIS Mental Health Audit 2020, email

Return to top