Predicting Athlete Mental Health Stigma Using the Theory of Reasoned Action Framework

in Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology
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Recent evidence suggests that attempts to tackle mental health stigma in athletes should include psychological theory to understand the competitive sport environment. Using the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), the aim was to determine what demographic and psychological factors predicted mental health stigma among athletes. Athletes (n = 471) completed a questionnaire, and a multiple linear regression analyses was conducted, specifying demographic (e.g., gender), psychological (e.g., norms) and moderating variables (e.g., sport type) as predictors of stigma-related intentions to socialise with individuals who are living with a mental health condition. TRA models explained a significant amount of variance for intentions, in which knowledge about and exposure to individuals with mental health conditions significantly predicted better intentions. Further, athletes competing in team sports, particularly females, had stronger intentions. This was the first study to explore mental health stigma using the TRA. Findings can inform the development of mental health awareness programs for athletes.

Breslin, Shannon, Ferguson, Devlin, and Haughey are with the Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute, Ulster University, Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland. Breslin is also with the Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Ulster University, Derry, Northern Ireland. Prentice is with the Dublin Business School, Dublin, Ireland.

Address author correspondence to Gavin Breslin at g.breslin1@ulster.ac.uk.
Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology
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