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The Impact of Concussion on Rider Mental Health

The Impact of Concussion on Rider Mental Health

With Mental Health Awareness Week occurring during the month of May, we wanted to focus on the effects of concussion on rider mental health in particular. This comes from a recent campaign launch from Riders Minds, the leading equestrian mental health charity.

Their Head First Campaign stems from the results of a study by Charles Owen, a riding helmet manufacturer.

Mental Health in Riders Study by Charles Owen

Last year, Charles Owen conducted a study alongside University of Sussex MSc student Charlotte Ricca. The study asked over 1,000 riders to share details of any falls in the past 12 months which then led to evaluations of their mental health immediately before the fall, after, and in the most recent 2-week period.

The results showed:

  • 58% of concussed participants experienced a significant increase in depression and anxiety after the fall
  • The more severe the head injury, the more severe the depression and anxiety symptoms
  • 30% of riders who suffered from depression had prolonged mental health problems

These concerning results have led to Charles Owen encouraging riders to replace their helmet after every accident and replace them every 3-5 years. It has also inspired Riders Minds to create the Head First Checker.

Head First Campaign & Checker from Riders Minds

Riders Minds Head First Campaign has been launched to raise awareness of the effects of concussion on rider mental health. Also known as the “invisible injury”, concussion can alter your way of being, brain function and mental health.

“Our Head First campaign aims to get equestrians to re-think concussion. It is not ‘just a bang on the head’, it’s a brain injury. If our brain is injured, our mind can be injured too, with potential far reaching implications on our mental health and well-being.”

Sylvia Bruce, Riders Minds Mental Health Specialist

This is why the Head First Checker has been developed; it is a comprehensive tool to enable riders to identify any signs of change and the early signs to look out for. Addressing 4 key areas, the tool includes Cognitive Changes, Mood/Behaviour, Physical Signs, and Sleep Pattern Alterations. The impact from head injuries does not always occur immediately, so it’s vital to always check and review mental health conditions.

“The objective of Riders Minds has always been to support the mental health and well-being of ALL equestrian people and we feel extremely proud that the connection between mental health and head injury has finally been brought to light in the equestrian industry like it has in rugby, American football and other high impact sports.”

Victoria Wright, Chair of Riders Minds

If you, or someone you know, is suffering, then Riders Minds have the tools then in place to support and advise.

To find out more about Riders Minds and to access the Head First Checker go to

If you would like to talk to someone, call the free confidential helpline on 0300 102 1540, or text 07860 065 202, available 24 hours a day.

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