28 Nov 2016

Pacific athletes' mental health focus of study

2:56 pm on 28 November 2016

New research is looking at the mental health and wellbeing of Pacific male elite athletes.

Caleb Marsters has received a three-year scholarship from the Health Research Council of New Zealand to look into some of the issues affecting the mental health of athletes at representative level.

Pasifika researcher Caleb Marsters

Pasifika researcher Caleb Marsters Photo: supplied

Mr Marsters said a lot of Pasifika were doing well in sports, for example with more than 40 percent of Rugby League's NRL competition having a Pacific heritage

However he said that increasingly, young Pasifika athletes have been linked to depression and suicide.

"Everything is more high stakes for them. The statistics, as we can see, a lot of them are coming from lower socio-economic areas and stuff. It is not really just about the individual. There's a lot around them and a lot of things that are real important to them that they have to also deal with," said Mr Marsters. "Stuff like giving back to family, being seen as role models in the community. There are lot of pressures that some other athletes don't have."

Mr Marsters said he hoped the project would bring a better understanding of what mental health means to elite athletes.