A Program to Reduce Stigma Toward Mental Illness and Promote Mental Health Literacy and Help-Seeking in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Student-Athletes

in Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology
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  • 1 Florida State University
  • 2 University of California
  • 3 University of Lincoln
  • 4 University of Massachusetts Athletics
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Student-athletes are susceptible to mental health problems that disrupt optimal functioning and well-being. Despite having many protective factors, student-athletes represent an at-risk subgroup of college students who experience mental health concerns due to the distress of balancing multiple obligations. However, many student-athletes underutilize psychological services. Stigma is the main barrier preventing student-athletes from seeking help, and mental health literacy (MHL) interventions addressing knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders have traditionally been used to destigmatize mental illness. This study investigated the impact of a 4-week program on stigma, MHL, and attitudes and intentions toward seeking help with 33 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I student-athletes. The program was composed of four science-based interventions—MHL, empathy, counter stereotyping, and contact—delivered face-to-face within a group setting. MHL, attitudes toward seeking help, and intentions to seek counseling improved from preintervention to postintervention and to 1-month follow-up. Self-stigma was reduced from preintervention to postintervention.

Chow, Gabana, Cooper, and Swanbrow Becker are with the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA. Chow is also with Cameron Institute, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Bird is with the School of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, United Kingdom. Gabana is also with University of Massachusetts Athletics, Amherst, MA, USA.

Chow (gchow@fsu.edu) is corresponding author.
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