Collegiate Student-Athlete Psychological Distress and Counseling Utilization During COVID-19

in Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology
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  • 1 Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA
  • | 2 Division of Kinesiology, Health & Sport Studies, College of Education, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA
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The onset of COVID-19 and cancellation of collegiate sports may have exacerbated student-athletes’ psychological distress. Within a national sample of collegiate athletes (N = 5,755; 66.7% women), we determined how gender and race related to rates of depression, stress, and counseling use at the beginning of the pandemic (April/May 2020). Overall, 26.5% (n = 1,526) and 10.6% (n = 612) endorsed clinical levels of depression and stress, respectively; 25.1% (n = 1,443) and 69.7% (n = 4,014) reported subclinical levels. Few athletes (2.3%–17.1%) reported counseling use before or after the onset of COVID-19; those who did reported higher levels of depression and stress than those who never sought services. The female athletes reported higher rates of depression, stress, and counseling use than the male athletes. There were no race effects. Athletic departments must address their student-athletes’ psychological distress by facilitating a higher use of mental health services.

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