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On the Frontline of Athlete Mental Health: The Mental Health Literacy of NCAA Coaches

Kelzie E Beebe and Trent A. Petrie

Coaches’ knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about mental health—or mental health literacy (MHL)—affect teams’ mental health climates and the detection, referral, and treatment of athletes’ mental health concerns. Thus, assessing collegiate coaches’ MHL, and factors related to its presence, is critical. Using the Mental Health Literacy Scale, 1,571 NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) coaches were surveyed regarding their MHL and demographic and mental health experience factors. Overall, 99.9% of the coaches surveyed believe that athletes’ mental health affected their sport performances. Through hierarchical regression analyses, coaches’ exposure to mental health treatment, perceived helpfulness of mental health treatment, gender (i.e., woman), years coaching (i.e., fewer years), and current NCAA division (i.e., Division III) were significantly related to their MHL, explaining 15.5% of variance. However, coaches’ race/ethnicity did not reach significance. Recommendations regarding increasing coaches’ MHL and hiring appropriately trained and licensed mental health and sport psychology professionals are offered.