Danny Frawley Centre launches first Research Project

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The Danny Frawley Centre has launched a new project in partnership with the Turner Institute at Monash University to research the latest advances in athlete mental fitness.

Research conducted at The Danny Frawley Centre (DFC) is set to make history through a mental fitness study co-founded by the Centre and the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health at Monash University. Mental fitness goes beyond physical fitness to focus on sustaining your state of wellbeing and performing at your best, even in stressful situations.

While the area of mental fitness has been explored before, it is believed this will be the first study to specifically investigate and evaluate the impact it has on mental wellbeing, sleep and performance of elite AFL athletes.

Spanning both the AFL and AFLW programs, the study will be led by Dr Allie Peters, who has been recruited as the first Danny Frawley Centre Research Fellow. Dr Peters will also be supported by global mindfulness expert Prof Craig Hassed OAM, Dr Melinda Jackson and Dr Elise Facer-Childs, Director of Research and Translation at the DFC.

“This research will build on our understanding of mental fitness and the impact it has on the mental and physical output of athletes,” Dr Facer-Childs said.

“The initial aim of the study is to develop tailored mental fitness programs for our AFL and AFLW teams. At the DFC, we want to conduct evidence based research which will allow us to test and evaluate the success of these programs.”

The program will be co-designed in consultation with St Kilda Football Club Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing Dr Ben Robbins, and current and former players and staff to ensure the approach is customised to the needs of the 74 players.

“We’ll look at how these programs impact factors such as emotional regulation, cognitive function, sleep and ultimately on-field performance. If we can show there is a benefit, we will look to translate these findings and offer the programs to community level clubs through the Danny Frawley Centre,” Dr Facer-Childs said.

“Through this partnership with St Kilda FC and the DFC, researchers at the Turner Institute will translate our world-class research into programs to improve the health and wellbeing of elite athletes and the broader community”, Professor Shantha Rajaratnam, Deputy Director of the Turner Institute, said.

The early phases of the project started a few months ago, with a completion date scheduled for April next year.

As part of the collaboration with the Turner Institute, representatives from Danny Frawley Centre, including Justin Koschitzke, will be guest speakers at the Turner R U OK? Day. This will be held at Monash University on Thursday 8th September at 11am.

Research opportunities: The Danny Frawley Centre is currently seeking applications for a PhD scholarship at the centre, to start in early 2023. Click here for more details.

Dr Allie Peters biography

Dr Allie Peters is a registered psychologist and has completed postgraduate studies in psychology. Her PhD research examined mindfulness-based approaches to sleep difficulties. Allie is the first post-doctoral fellow at the Danny Frawley Centre, currently developing and evaluating a mindfulness-based foundational and an elite mental fitness program for AFL players. In addition to her research skills, Allie has over 13 years’ experience in the healthcare sector. Her roles have included: sleep psychologist at Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre and St Vincent’s Hospital; school settings as a school psychologist, as a presenter and a group facilitator in both sleep and mindfulness and has worked in private practice for more than 10 years with a wide range of client groups. She is the founder and director of Growing Connections Psychology and Psychotherapy. Allie is passionate about developing cutting-edge interventions to enhance performance and quality of life.

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