Every consultation provides the opportunity for screening for mental health problems. Although there are several groups that are at a higher risk of depression and related disorders, all players should be screened for depression when there are systems in place to ensure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment and appropriate follow-up. 6

Screening may simply involve having awareness that the players you look after have the same risk of mental health problems as the general population. Enquiring regularly about their well-being and being clear that you are available to talk with them should problems arise is a practical first step. You may also elect to also incorporate more formal screening tools into your pre-competition medical assessment (PCMA) or to perform these at regular intervals throughout the year. There are a number of validated tools that can be used to do this.

The three most widely used tools to screen for depression are the nine-question patient health questionnaire – depression (PHQ-9), the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) and the depression screener from the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). 7

Click on the following links to read more about some of the screening questionnaires that can be used to help diagnose mental health conditions in football players.

It is important to recognise the limitations of these screening tools. When players report symptoms of mental health problems, it is important to then follow up with a clinical assessment. Similar tools exist for all major mental health conditions. They are not limited to just depression.