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.
Gavin Breslin, Stephen Shannon, Kyle Ferguson, Shauna Devlin, Tandy Haughey, and Garry Prentice
Martin J. Turner, Stuart Carrington, and Anthony Miller
It is not fully understood the extent to which cognitive mediators are involved in the transaction between the athletic environment and athlete mental health. Rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) holds that primary irrational beliefs lead to psychological distress through secondary irrational beliefs. Therefore this study examined the mediational effects of primary and secondary irrational beliefs on psychological distress across three sport participation groups; non-sport participants, recreational sport participants, and elite athletes. This study also examined the differences in irrational beliefs and psychological distress between individual and team sport participants, between females and males, and across the three sport participation groups. Data revealed that secondary irrational beliefs mediated the relationships between primary irrational beliefs and psychological distress. Between-groups analyses revealed that elite athletes demonstrated smallest depreciation irrational beliefs, and elite female athletes reported greater depression symptoms than elite male athletes. The implications of the findings for research and applied work are discussed.
Melissa L. Breger, Margery J. Holman, and Michelle D. Guerrero
Traditional sport norms and gender-based biases that are prevalent in the sport environment, both explicit and implicit, have contributed to a culture where sexual harassment and abuse is commonplace. This article examines how sport tolerates the development of this culture, and more importantly, how practices and polices can be utilized to transform sport’s culture to one that is inclusive and safe. Reform is needed in attitudes and norms towards gender bias and sexual violence that primarily, but not exclusively, targets girls and women in sport and is perpetrated by boys and men. The application of various theories from psychology is recommended as one strategy to rid sport of both a culture of misogyny and of those who resist change to achieve this objective.
Sofie Kent, Kieran Kingston, and Kyle F. Paradis
Athlete burnout symptoms are detrimental to athlete well-being. Obsessive passion has been identified as an antecedent of athlete burnout, with basic psychological need satisfaction potentially mediating this process. The aim of the current research was to extend on previous work and examine whether the relationship between passion and athlete burnout was mediated by psychological need satisfaction in a heterogeneous sample. Participants were 120 competitive athletes (M age = 22.04, SD = 5.83) from 21 different sports. Each participant completed the Passion Scale, Basic Psychological Needs in Sport Scale, and the Athlete Burnout Questionnaire. Multiple regression and bootstrapping procedures were used to analyze the data. Passion (harmonious and obsessive) was found to share a significant relationship with sport devaluation but shared no significant relationship with emotional and physical exhaustion and reduced sense of accomplishment. Bootstrapping results suggested that the basic psychological need of autonomy was the only significant mediating variable in the relationship between passion (harmonious and obsessive) and burnout (sport devaluation). Potential antecedents and consequences of athlete burnout, alongside applied and conceptual implications are discussed.
Pooja Somasundaram and Alexandra M. Burgess
Perfectionism functions as a transdiagnostic risk factor for a variety of negative mental health outcomes, including eating disorders. Female athletes are believed to be especially vulnerable to eating pathology and some aspects of perfectionism. However, it is unknown whether perfectionism functions similarly as a risk factor in athlete and non-athlete groups with regards to negative eating behaviors and body attitudes. The present study assessed the moderating effect of athletic involvement on the relationship between dimensions of perfectionism and disordered eating symptomology among collegiate women competing at an amateur level. Female undergraduates (N = 478) were categorized into the following subgroups based on athlete status: aesthetic sport athletes, team/individual sport athletes, and non-athletes. Results indicated that levels of perfectionism and disordered eating symptomology did not differ between groups. However, both athletic involvement as a whole and type of sport played each moderated the relationship between dimensions of perfectionism and disordered eating, demonstrating that continued efforts to educate collegiate women about healthy eating and exercise behavior are still of critical importance for their overall well-being.
Kendahl Shortway, Marina Oganesova, and Andrew Vincent
Sexual assault is highly prevalent among the population of college students, which includes student-athletes. The context of athletics introduces unique risk factors related to alcohol consumption and aspects of sport culture, opportunities for prevention, and ethical considerations and consequences of disclosing and reporting sexual assault. Sport psychology practitioners are closely connected to athletes, and they can potentially serve an important and influential role in prevention and response to sexual assault. In this article, we review literature on sexual assault in college, highlight relevant aspects of the athletic context, summarize legislation and ethical considerations pertinent to sexual assault reporting, and provide practical recommendations for sport psychology practitioners so that they may contribute to preventative efforts and better serve student-athletes who are victims and survivors of sexual assault.
Mitch Abrams and Michelle L. Bartlett
The #MeToo movement has brought long needed attention to the epidemic of sexual assault and sexual violence. In the world of sports, the need to prevent and address such acts requires individuals with training in clinical, forensic and sport psychology. These professionals must have particular understanding of the dynamics of sexual violence within the athletic and sport culture. This paper serves to highlight context-specific approaches to pertinent identification and treatment issues. An overview of sexual abuse victim and perpetrator identification will be offered. In addition to the introduction of risk assessment and recommendation of comprehensive prevention programming, treatment needs in the athletic context will be explored. Group-level interventions currently being utilized will be reviewed, recommended topic areas to be covered in protocols will be enumerated and suggestions for systemic and cultural change in the sport domain will be offered.
Kristoffer Henriksen, Louise Kamuk Storm, Natalia Stambulova, Nicklas Pyrdol, and Carsten Hvid Larsen
This study is focused on reflections of expert sport psychology practitioners about their interventions with competitive youth and senior elite athletes. Two objectives include: (1) to identify key structural components used by practitioners to describe sport psychology interventions and integrate them into an empirical framework, and (2) to analyze the practitioners’ experiences in regard of their successful and less successful interventions in competitive youth and elite senior sport contexts using the empirical framework. We conducted semi-structured interviews with twelve internationally recognized sport psychology practitioners (SPPs) and analyzed the data thematically. The empirical framework derived from the SPPs’ accounts contains eight structural components integrated into two categories: (1) the content and focus (with three components, e.g., adaptation of content), and (2) the organization and delivery of interventions (with five components, e.g., initiation and assessment of athletes’ needs). Using the empirical framework we found differences between successful and less successful interventions and between youth and senior contexts in terms of needs assessment, adaptation and breadth of content, athlete-practitioner relationship, and intervention settings. The empirical framework might inform SPPs in their efforts to design, implement, and evaluate their services in these two contexts.