The Swinburne Centre for Social Impact partnered with Racing Victoria to collect health, psychological health and well-being data, using an online, anonymous survey method. We recruited members of the horse racing industry visiting a “Well-being Lounge” during the annual yearling sales at Oakland Junction, Victoria, early 2017; and by targeted email in mid-2017. The aim of this research was to gain evidence about the mental health and well-being of personnel working in the Victorian horse racing industry. These include occupational groups of horse trainers, jockeys, horse owners, stable supervisors, stable hands and others.
The survey used standardised questionnaires to obtain data on demographic details, sleep habits, mental health and well-being. While the survey identified well-being issues amongst this general community, this data cannot be traced back to individual people and is only used in aggregate form. The project relied upon people agreeing to participate, it did not pre-identify people with health or well-being issues. Trained psychologists were on hand at the Yearling sales, and support information available, in case the survey triggered any concerns for participants. We used the K10 (a measure of psychological distress) and PSQI (sleep behaviour) standardised surveys, which were self-administered by participants via iPads or paper at the yearling sales. A second round of recruitment was made from Racing Victoria horse trainer email lists in mid-2017. The results of the research provide evidence of the mental health status and well-being of people in the horse racing community, and of Victorian horse racing trainers specifically.
We suggest a further round of qualitative interviews to explore reasons for identified mental health scores of racing trainers; evidence which could be used to inform strategies for mental ill-health prevention and support for those with well-being issues. This would assist Racing Victoria in its goals to optimize well-being of those in the racing industry.