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.
Lindsey E. Slavin, Tess M. Palmateer, Trent A. Petrie, and E. Whitney G. Moore
Lewis King, SarahJane Cullen, Jean McArdle, Adrian McGoldrick, Jennifer Pugh, Giles Warrington, and Ciara Losty
A large proportion of jockeys report symptoms associated with mental health difficulties (MHDs), yet most do not seek help from professional mental health support services. Due to the paucity of literature in this field, this study sought to explore jockeys’ barriers to, and facilitators of, help-seeking for MHDs. Twelve jockeys participated in semistructured interviews, subsequently analyzed via reflexive thematic analysis. Barriers to help-seeking included the negative perceptions of others (stigma and career implications), cultural norms (masculinity and self-reliance), and low mental health literacy (not knowing where to seek help, minimization of MHDs, negative perceptions of treatment, and recognizing symptoms). Facilitators to help-seeking included education (exposure to psychological support at a younger age), social support (from professionals, jockeys, family, and friends), and media campaigns (high-profile disclosures from jockeys). Findings are consistent with barrier and facilitator studies among general and athletic populations. Applied recommendations and future research considerations are presented throughout the manuscript.
Jason Kostrna and Aaron D’Addario
The mindful sport performance enhancement (MSPE) protocol is designed to enhance mindfulness, emotional regulation, and attentional awareness and control. The MSPE consists of trainer led group sessions teaching the concepts of mindfulness through discussion and meditation practice. However, little research has tested the MSPE protocol’s adaptability and generalizability to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division-I teams and practitioners independent of the MSPE protocol’s creators. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to test the efficacy of an adapted MSPE protocol. The adapted MSPE protocol was delivered to a NCAA Division I team while a second team participated as a potentially equivalent control group. Both teams completed measures of attentional control, flow, rumination, and mindful attention as primary outcome variables. Results revealed significant decreases in rumination and trait anxiety, as well as improvements in concentration control and focusing ability compared with the control group. Findings support the external validity of the MSPE protocol to adapt to independent practitioners and a previously unstudied combination of sport and level of competition.
J.D. DeFreese, Daniel J. Madigan, and Henrik Gustafsson
Andrea Stracciolini, Caitlin M. McCracken, William P. Meehan III, and Matthew D. Milewski
Purpose: To study mental health, sleep duration, and daytime sleepiness in young athletes. Methods: A cross-sectional questionnaire study was conducted. The main outcome measures included sleep duration and daytime sleepiness. Results: Study participants included 756 athletes with a mean age of 13.5 years. A total of 39% (n = 296/756) reported not meeting current sleep recommendations for age. Athletes >12 years and with a self-reported anxiety and/or depression history were less likely to meet sleep recommendations and showed higher daytime sleepiness (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.29, 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.2, 1.4], β [SE] = 3.06 [0.74], respectively). Athletes with goal-oriented reasons for playing versus enjoyment (52% vs. 35%, aOR = 1.70, 95% CI [1.12, 2.58]) were less likely to meet sleep recommendations. Night time internet access and weeknight homework hours were negatively associated with sleep recommendations (aOR = 1.68, 95% CI [1.68, 2.47] and aOR = 3.11, 95% CI [1.82, 5.3]) and positively associated with daytime sleepiness (β [SE] = 1.44 [0.45] and 2.28 [0.59]). Conclusions: Many young athletes are not meeting sleep recommendations. Associated factors include mental health, reasons for play, internet access, and homework demand.
Stephen P. Hebard, James E. Bissett, Emily Kroshus, Emily R. Beamon, and Aviry Reich
Sport coaches can play an influential role in athletes’ mental health help seeking through purposeful communication, destigmatization of mental health concerns, and supportive relationships. To positively engage in these behaviors, coaches require mental health knowledge (or literacy), positive attitudes about that knowledge, and self-efficacy to use that knowledge. Guided by a multidimensional health literacy framework, we conducted a content analysis of web content and scholarly literature to identify health education programming for coaches that addressed athlete mental health. A purposive sample of Olympic National Governing Bodies, collegiate athletic associations, high school sport associations, youth sport governing bodies, and the scholarly literature were analyzed. We found inconsistent programming regarding a range of mental health disorders, behaviors critical to mental health promotion, and critical components of mental health literacy. Implications and next steps for mental health literacy support for coaches are discussed.
Luke F. Olsson, Michael C. Grugan, Joseph N. Martin, and Daniel J. Madigan
Perfectionism is a consistent predictor of athlete burnout. Researchers have therefore sought to examine the psychological mechanisms that may explain this relationship. In the present study, guided by Smith’s cognitive-affective stress model, we extend existing research by examining whether perceived stress is one such explanatory factor. A sample of 256 adult athletes completed measures of perfectionism (perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns), perceived stress, and burnout. Correlational analyses indicated that perfectionistic concerns was positively related to burnout, while perfectionistic strivings was either negatively related or unrelated to burnout. Tests of bias-corrected bootstrapped indirect effects showed that perceived stress mediated the positive relationship between perfectionistic concerns and burnout. This finding was evident when examining total burnout and all three burnout symptoms. It appears that athletes high in perfectionistic concerns are likely to experience heightened levels of stress in sport which may in turn render them more vulnerable to burnout.
Jana Fogaca, Illene Cupit, and Matthew Gonzalez
Although there is awareness of the impact of grief on survivors’ well-being, almost no research exists on the impact of death on sports team bereavement. The present study surveyed 40 members of athletic teams (coaches, staff, and athletes) from various levels to determine what happens in the aftermath of a team member’s death. Findings of the survey indicated that many of the respondents experienced acute grief responses affecting performance, which memorialization and community support was helpful whereas the news media was often not. In addition, a need for appropriate resources and a school bereavement policy specific to student athletes was seen. In line with the dual process model, the responses indicated use of both emotion focused and restoration focused coping. Implications of the findings suggested that addressing bereavement needs for athletes, and their coaches was tantamount to mitigating some of the complications associated with disenfranchised grief.