Mental Health in Elite-Level Coaches: Prevalence Rates and Associated Impact of Coach Stressors and Psychological Resilience

in International Sport Coaching Journal
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  • 1 Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  • | 2 Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
  • | 3 NOC*NSF
  • | 4 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
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Coaching in elite sports can be a highly volatile and stressful profession. Nevertheless, limited knowledge is available on how coach stressors impact elite-level coaches’ mental health. The present study therefore aimed to assess the self-perceived impact of coach stressors on coaches’ mental health, in terms of psychological and social well-being, as well as the prevalence of symptoms of a number of common mental disorders. Furthermore, the role of resilience was examined as a potential protective resource against mental health issues in coaches. Data were collected cross-sectionally, using an online survey with 119 elite-level coaches from the Netherlands and Belgium. Results showed that, although coach stressors were commonly experienced, the self-perceived impact on mental health was low to moderate. Nevertheless, symptoms of common mental disorders were prevalent within the coaches, ranging from 39% for depression/anxiety to 19% for distress and adverse alcohol use. Furthermore, organizational stressors were found to be a positive predictor for symptoms of depression/anxiety, whereas resilience was a negative predictor. The results highlight the need for more research and attention to the mental health of coaches in elite sports.

Kegelaers and Wylleman are with the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium. Kegelaers and Oudejans are with the Faculty of Sports and Nutrition, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Wylleman and Wessels are with NOC*NSF, Arnhem, The Netherlands. van Bree and Oudejans are with the Department of Human Movement Sciences, Amsterdam Movement Sciences, and Institute for Brain and Behaviour Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Kegelaers (jolan.kegelaers@vub.be) is corresponding author.
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