Enhancing Coach Understanding of Mental Ill Health Through the Identification of Temporal Themes in Athletes’ Stories

in International Sport Coaching Journal
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  • 1 University of Winchester
  • 2 University of Chichester
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In elite sport, research has highlighted the significant incidence of athletes experiencing mental ill health. The aim of the present study was to make sense of stories that elite athletes tell about experiencing mental ill health through sampling the autobiographies of four male, elite cricketers. In each book, the player spoke in detail about mental ill health and how this impacted on their international career. Horizontal and vertical analyses of the data resulted in six progressive themes being identified, from Early Warning Signs, Fluctuations of Mental Health, Build-up to the Severe Incident, the Severe Incident, the Recovery Process, to Relapsing. The findings are considered in line with how they might be used to meet the call to develop mental health literacy, in aiming to help coaches and other psychology support staff understand more about the process of athletes who experience mental ill health across their career.

Smith is with the Department of Sport, Exercise and Health, Faculty of Health and Well Being, University of Winchester, Winchester, United Kingdom. Runswick is with the Institute of Sport, University of Chichester, Chichester, United Kingdom.

Smith (Matt.Smith@Winchester.ac.uk) is corresponding author.

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