Mental Health: Improved support for turf professionals

Turf Mental Health

BIGGA, the British and International Golf Greenkeeper’s Association, is supporting the mental health of turf professionals with greater access to training, resources, counselling and advice.

The association, founded to improve the working conditions of golf and sports turf professionals, is aiming to build an international support network by training its members to become Mental Health First Aiders.

Members can study for an internationally recognised Mental Health First Aid qualification, free of charge, on two-day workshops delivered by training partner Mental Health Survival.

Turf leaders have been learning to recognise the signs of poor mental health and develop the listening and empathy skills required to provide first-level intervention and signpost access to professional support.

BIGGA member Steve Wallace, said: “I’ve always been open and honest about my struggles with depression and anxiety, this course was a brilliant opportunity to learn about other mental health disabilities and the best ways to approach those struggling so that they can take the first steps in the right direction to get the help they need.”

Survey highlights extent of problems

In 2021, a survey by Syngenta Golf revealed that more than 60% of greenkeepers, PGA Professionals and club managers had experienced increased work-related mental health problems.

More recent reports from Australia suggested that turf professionals were facing unfavourable working conditions, stagnating wages and high levels of micro-management, leading to increased mental health problems in the industry and driving many away from the profession altogether.

Solutions to address gap in support levels

While the survey identified a potential gap in the problems experienced and support available, work is now being done to address this.

BIGGA’s campaign aims to promote best practices for improving mental health and involves partnerships with Mental Health First Aid England and Paul MacCormack, Golf Course Superintendent and General Manager at Fox Meadows in Canada.

MacCormack, also known The Mindful Super, has produced a series of exclusive videos for BIGGA designed to offer practical ways to manage stress levels and identify signs of anxiety and depression at work.

BIGGA has also founded a private Facebook support group dedicated to improving the mental wellbeing of its members, as well as providing access to resources including mindfulness and meditation apps, a counselling helpline, legal advice and links to mental health charities.