Football, healing, and mental health recovery

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter draws on qualitative data and observations from a range of projects seeking to use football to support mental health recovery. The authors conceptualize recovery as a fluid ongoing process that while supporting individuals to manage and deal with mental illness, may not result in the reduction or remission of clinical symptoms.

The research discussed in the chapter is drawn from interviews with male participants aged 18–40 years, who participated in four different football and mental health projects.

The chapter outlines three key ways in which participants perceived that football contributes positively to their recovery. Participants discuss football as providing a “safe space,” free from stigma, and as a setting where they can develop productive and engaging social relationships with medical professionals, support staff, coaches, and peers. Finally, they perceive football as a context in which they can begin to rework and redefine their identities, to move away from identities constructed around illness and vulnerability.

Research Limitations/Implications
The chapter concludes by considering both the value and limitations of football as a mechanism for supporting recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSport, Mental Illness and Sociology
EditorsMichael Atkinson
Place of PublicationBingley UK
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781787434691, 9781787439559
ISBN (Print)9781787434707
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Sport
ISSN (Print)1476-2854


  • Football
  • Identity
  • Mental health
  • Recovery
  • Safe space
  • Stigma

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