Gabrielle’s PhD looks at how mental health and physical activities impact on well-being

Gabrielle Hale

We spoke to Gabrielle Hale, for Mental Health Awareness Week, about its theme ‘nature’, how it’s linked to her research and her interest in mental health.

Gabrielle is a PhD student at the University.


Why does the nature theme resonate with you?

I’ve always enjoyed going on long walks, even more so since the pandemic. 

Lockdown restrictions have made me appreciate being able to go on a walk outside. It really helps to have that break and fresh air whilst working and studying from home. 

Going on a walk helps you to switch off after a long day of PhD research. Next weekend, I’m climbing Snowdon at night to raise money for the charities Mind and CLIC Sargent. 

Walking outside during the pandemic has also made me appreciate how lucky we are to live in South Wales. We have such beautiful views and green spaces on our doorstep.  


How is it linked to your PhD research?

My thesis looks at how mental health and physical activities delivered by professional football clubs have an impact on young people’s wellbeing. 

Lockdown restrictions have been difficult for everyone. It was eye-opening to hear about the detrimental impact that the closures of local parks, leisure facilities and cessation of these football trust physical activity interventions have had on the mental health of young people. Especially those living in more urban areas and hence do not have access to green spaces or gardens. 

We are so lucky to live in South Wales and have access to so many beautiful green spaces right on our doorstep. Nature needs to be accessible for everyone.


Have you always had an interest in mental health?

Yes, and this is why I decided to study for my undergraduate degree in Psychology at USW and then later an MSc in Clinical Psychology. 

My PhD evaluates the impact of physical activity-based interventions delivered by professional football clubs on young people's mental health.

I'm hoping to develop an evidence-based intervention. It will use the inspirational draw of professional football clubs to encourage young people to participate in physical activity and sport. It will educate them on the importance of engaging in physical activity to promote their mental health and well-being. 

Taking part in physical activity is so important for promoting good mental health and well-being. I've had first-hand experience of this whilst working as a support worker for people with mental health problems and/or learning disabilities. We often encourage these individuals to engage with community-based physical activity programmes to help promote their overall mental health and well-being and build a sense of community.