Supporting Young Elite Athletes With Mental Health Issues: Coaches’ Experience and Their Perceived Role

in The Sport Psychologist
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This study explored talent-development coaches’ experiences of athletes having faced mental health issues (MHIs). A second objective was to allow participants to share their opinion on how sport environments could improve the support offered to coaches and athletes encountering MHIs. A thematic analysis was performed on 11 verbatim-transcribed interviews conducted with UK-based talent-development coaches. While monitoring and supporting their athletes’ performance and well-being were viewed as day-to-day practice, dealing with MHIs was, however, not considered part of their role for a variety of reasons. Findings also suggest that coaches need more suitable and context-specific knowledge and tools to appropriately respond to and support their athletes. Generating a better understanding of coaches’ perceived role, knowledge, and needs to adequately support their athletes suffering from MHIs is crucial for the design of sport-specific interventions and for the athletes themselves.

Lebrun is with the Inst. of Coaching and Performance, School of Sport and Wellbeing, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, United Kingdom. MacNamara is with the School of Health and Human Performance, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland. Collins is with Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom. MacNamara, Collins, and Rodgers are with Grey Matters Performance Ltd., Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom.

Collins (Dave.Collins@ed.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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