Villarreal CF and the CEU Cardenal Herrera University (CEU UCH) have joined forces to launch a pioneering mental health project. The aim of this partnership, in which the Yellows’ medical staff will take part, is to detect situations that could affect players’ mental health, and fair play on the pitch. The research, based on the values of socialisation, team spirit and healthy living, is part of the Aula Endavant scheme, launched in 2015.
The study is voluntary and anonymous for players. It also includes several questionnaires that have been internationally validated for the evaluation of aspects such as impulsivity, sensitivity to punishment and reward, anxiety, depression, and relationship with food. Reponses to them will be treated confidentially.
A prioneering project in football
Villarreal’s head of medical services Adolfo Muñoz underlined the importance of this new medical protocol, which is pioneering in the world of football, in which he will work on with the researchers from the CEU UCH: “It will help us improve the overall wellbeing and sporting performance of the first team and the academy, both at the start of their professional career, including towards retirement. In the Netherlands, only 7% of football clubs evaluated the mental health of their players. Because of that, it’s a pioneering project in our world, so medical teams at clubs can fight for the health of their players, including mental health, during their sporting career.”
Isabel Almodóvar, principal researcher of the project and Nursing Degree co-ordinator at the CEU UCH in Castellón, also underlined the importance of the project: “The mental health of athletes is necessary for fair play and the survival of sporting values. The aim of this project is to identify mental health markers in elite athletes that allow early detection of possible mental health issues in medical tests carried out on football players, to address them in time.”
The Yellows Academy will also be involved
In addition, the researchers will pay special attention to the youngsters from the Villarreal CF academy between 14 and 19 years old. The purpose of this will be to set biomarkers of risk of depression, inclusion problems, or sel-esteem, that may develop in adolescence. That is why Héctor Usó, Villarreal CF nutritionist and pharmacist, will focus his doctoral thesis on the adolescents and players from the female team, in relation to their increased risk of developing mental health disorders related to eating behaviour.
Six medical professionals will form part of the research team
Adolfo Muñoz and Héctor Usó will take part in the research representing Villarreal CF. The research is led by doctor Isabel Almodóvar from the CEU Cardenal Herrera University, in which the following professionals will take part: doctor Gonzalo Haro, leader of the TXP research group, medical professor and psychiatrist responsible for the Dual Pathology at the Castellón provincial hospital; professors and researchers Paula Sánchez Thevent and Isabel Aleixandre; and research professor Antonio Real, who will look at the statistics.