This study explored depression, anxiety, and help-seeking at a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III historically women’s college in the United States, while taking into account gender identities outside of male and female. An online survey including the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7, and help-seeking measures were completed by 109 student-athletes. Participants’ ages ranged from 18 to 22. Within the sample, 59.7% of participants identified as LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, among other identities) and 8.3% identified as genderqueer/gender-nonconforming. A total of 33.0% of the participants reported symptoms of depression, while 28.5% reported symptoms of anxiety. Genderqueer/gender-nonconforming athletes reported higher rates of anxiety than athletes who identified as women. Higher rates of depression and anxiety were related to higher levels of formal help-seeking. The results indicate that student-athletes at a historically women’s college may be experiencing higher levels of depression and anxiety than student-athletes in other contexts and have more positive views toward help-seeking. Student-athletes who identify outside of the gender binary may be at higher risk for anxiety.
Aidan D. Kraus and Erica Tibbetts
Shelby N. Anderson
Sport psychology scholars have long called for the field to take intersectional approaches to research and applied practice. Missing from this call is the study of intersectionality in the classroom. Therefore, the purpose of this practice paper is to provide a resource for sport psychology practitioners to take an intersectional approach in their teaching. First, the author provides a brief overview of intersectional theory and approaches to using anti-oppressive practices in the classroom. The author then reflects on their experience utilizing an intersectional lens as a neophyte instructor. Finally, the author discusses lessons learned from this teaching experience. This practice paper serves as a resource for sport psychology scholars and practitioners to integrate the study of intersectionality in their roles. While this paper is written for the higher education classroom, all readers will gain knowledge on intersectional theory and how it can be integrated in their scholarship or applied practice.
Yavuz Lima, Sergen Devran, Tom Webb, and Bülent Bayraktar
Although referees who officiate in the amateur football leagues are exposed to various stressors that can negatively affect their mental health (MH), little is known about their MH symptoms. The purpose of the study was to evaluate MH symptoms of referees who officiate in the Turkish amateur football leagues. An online survey was sent to all referees in the Turkish amateur football leagues (n = 4,900) incorporating standardized scales assessing depression, anxiety, and stress. A total of 1,279 referees participated in the study. Female referees reported higher depression (p < .01) and anxiety (p = .02) scores than males. Younger referees (23–27 years) reported higher depression (p = .01) and anxiety (p < .01) scores than older (>38 years) referees. Results showed that symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress scores were associated with marital status (being single), lower incomes, severe sports injury history, and inadequate social support. In light of these results, MH assessments should be undertaken to detect which referees are at greater risk of MH problems and facilitate appropriate and timely MH interventions. Further study is needed to inform MH risk reduction strategies and/or programming.
Karen A. Smith, Robert J. Naughton, Carl Langan-Evans, and Kiara Lewis
This mixed methods study aimed to investigate weight cutting practices of female taekwon-do athletes internationally and explore their experiences of “making weight.” A survey of weight loss practices and eating behaviors was completed by 103 taekwon-do athletes from 12 countries, which illustrated that 72.5% of athletes engage in both acute and chronic weight loss practices prior to competition and that there were higher levels of disordered eating within this athletic population than nonweight cutting athletes. Semistructured interviews were conducted with five international-level competitors; thematic analysis of the interviews identified that the women in general felt weight cutting was “horrible—but worth it” and the women believed that (a) weight cutting is unpleasant, difficult, and challenging; and (b) weight cutting provides a competitive advantage. The implications of this study are that weight cutting is widespread among high-level competitive female taekwon-do athletes and this is unlikely to change given the perceived advantages. Efforts are needed to make sure that the women are knowledgeable of the risks and are provided with safe and effective means of making weight.
Satu Kaski, Monna Arvinen-Barrow, Ulla Kinnunen, and Jari Parkkari
The aim of the present study was to identify profiles of elite athlete mental well- and ill-being and study how the profiles (i.e., subgroups of athletes) differed in sport-related demands and resources. A total of 259 Finnish elite athletes (n = 170 active and n = 89 retired) completed quantitative self-report inventories. Through cluster analysis, four profiles of mental well- and ill-being were identified. Profile 1 was overrepresented by retired, older, and male athletes, and characterized by good mental well-being. Profile 2 consisted mainly of active athletes who reported mild risk for alcohol abuse. Profile 3 consisted mainly of women who displayed possible presence of an eating disorder. Profile 4 was typical of young athletes with mental ill-being. The balance between sport-related demands and resources appeared to be the healthiest in Profile 1 and worst in Profile 4. The present findings are beneficial for those who work with and/or provide psychological support to athletes.
Courtney C. Walton, Kelsey J. Lewis, James Kirby, Rosemary Purcell, Simon M. Rice, and Margaret S. Osborne
This cross-sectional study explored athlete responses to the Compassion Motivation and Action Scales Self-Compassion Scale, examining its relationship with well-being. Athlete (N = 207; mean age 27.9 years) scores were consistent with previous population means. Scores on the Compassion Motivation and Action Scales Self-Compassion Scale did not differ between elite and nonelite athletes, nor did they correlate significantly with trait competitiveness. Significant differences emerged based on athlete well-being state, with athletes categorized as “flourishing” scoring higher on the total score and all subscales of the Compassion Motivation and Action Scales Self-Compassion Scale, as compared with those with “moderate mental health” (Cohen’s ds from 0.58 to 0.92). Furthermore, the distress tolerance subscale significantly mediated the relationship between self-compassion intentions and well-being (indirect path: B = 0.034, p < .001). The results suggest that self-compassionate intentions are not enough, and athletes may need support to tolerate the distress that comes with moving toward one’s own suffering.
Debra Kriger, Amélie Keyser-Verreault, Janelle Joseph, and Danielle Peers
Intersectional approaches are needed in sport research and administration to create significant changes in access, participation, and leadership. The operationalizing intersectionality framework—graphically represented as a wheel with spokes and points of traction—offers a nonexhaustive, evolving structure that can facilitate contextual, deliberate actions to disrupt overlapping systems of oppression. The framework was assembled to guide E-Alliance, the gender equity in sport in Canada research hub, in embodying its commitment to intersectional approaches and designed for broader application to sport. Current gender equity efforts mostly continue to prioritize the knowledge and needs of White, middle–upper-class, nondisabled, not fat, heteronormative, binary, cisgender women and have yet to achieve parity. Acting meaningfully on commitments to intersectional approaches means focusing on how axes work together and influence each other. The framework can help advance cultural sport psychology and ultimately improve athletic well-being.
Nikki E. Barczak-Scarboro, Emily Kroshus, Brett Pexa, Johna K. Register Mihalik, and J.D. DeFreese
Competitive sport involves physical and psychological stressors, such as training load and stress perceptions, that athletes must adapt to in order to maintain health and performance. Psychological resilience, one’s capacity to equilibrate or adapt affective and behavioral responses to adverse physical or emotional experiences, is an important topic in athlete training and performance. The study purpose was to investigate associations of training load and perceived sport stress with athlete psychological resilience trajectories. Sixty-one collegiate club athletes (30 females and 31 males) completed self-reported surveys over 6 weeks of training. Athletes significantly differed in resilience at the beginning of competitive training. Baseline resilience differences were associated with resilience trajectories. Perceived stress and training load were negatively associated with resilience. Physical and psychological stressors had a small but statistically significant impact on resilience across weeks of competitive training, indicating that both types of stressors should be monitored to maintain athlete resilience.
Martha J. Anderson, Yvette Ingram, Linda Meyer, Thomas West, and Ellen West
Collegiate athletes have demonstrated a need for social support to help cope with their daily responsibilities. The purpose of this research was to explore National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II athletes’ perception of social support from friends, teammates, family, coaches, significant others, and athletic trainers following injury, illness, or other identified life stressors. There were 546 participants who completed a five-part survey using the University Stress Scale, the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, the Athletic Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, the Perceived Stress Scale, and a demographic section. Of the participants, 352 (64.5%) stated that they experienced moderate stress levels, and all participants indicated experiencing an identified life stressor within the last 12 months. The results indicated statistically significant differences when comparing providers of social support: females preferred the support of friends, significant others, and athletic trainers, and freshmen and sophomores perceived more social support from friends than did juniors and seniors.