Books, Articles and Research
Barriers and facilitators to mental health help-seeking for young elite athletes: a qualitative study
Oftentimes, adolescents and young adults do not seek help with mental disorders. Research has found many barriers and facilitators to getting help for young adults. In this study, researchers worked to identify specific factors that impact help-seeking among elite athletes. They found that negative and harmful attitudes and beliefs related to mental disorders were key in deterring youth from seeking support, as were negative past experiences of help-seeking. Positive feedback from and attitudes of others, including coaches, and positive encounters with providers were identified as important ways of getting young adults to seek mental health support.
Mental health stigma in sports-How negative messaging is making it harder for athletes to seek help
The suicide of Junior Seau, former NFL football player, brought to light many flaws in the ways mental disorders and seeking support for these disorders are addressed within the sports world. This article highlights how detrimental an attitude of toughness and extreme resiliency can be to professional athletes, especially when it comes time for them to seek help. This attitude has contributed to the belief that expressing signs of mental health needs equates to weakness. The author emphasizes the need for honest, open communication among team members and staff about mental health needs.
Dealing with postrace letdown
This article explores postrace letdown (PRLD), a term used to describe the common physical and/or mental feelings that many athletes feel after the climax of months of hard work and training. Dr. Doug Jowdy, a licensed psychologist and former sports psychologist, discusses how PRLD is not uncommon for elite athletes, who often are overtrained with little rest, recovery, or regeneration. He suggests a training program that incorporates rest, a celebration of achievement, allotted time for the body to regenerate, quality nutrition that encourages recovery, and reflection.
Lindsey Wright shares message of hope
In this article, Lindsey Wright shares how she dealt with depression and managing her career as a professional golfer. She describes how her symptoms built up gradually, leading to insomnia, anxiety, and eventually the realization that she needed help. After taking some time off from golf to focus on her mental health she was able to return to professional golf and get back to a place in her life where she felt happy again.
Laker star gives mental health assist
Ron Artest, now known as Metta World Peace, of the Los Angeles Lakers took a bold step a few years ago when he thanked his psychiatrist on national television in an interview after a big win that led his team to the NBA championship. He has worked to manage his mental health issues for years through therapy with a sports psychiatrist, and he decided that, when he made his mental disorder public, that many people could benefit from knowing about his experience. His openness was a big step in helping increase knowledge and understanding of mental disorders, and acceptance and inclusion of people who experience them, in society.
Darryl Strawberry opens up: Baseball legend discusses overcoming depression
In this article Darryl Strawberry shares some of his life experiences as a professional baseball player, what it was like growing up in a home with an abusive father, and how he dealt with his depression and substance use as an African-American man. Strawberry discusses the common misconceptions regarding mental and substance use disorders in the African-American community and makes the point that depression does not discriminate. Through his memoir Straw: Finding My Way, he hopes to inspire all people experiencing mental health challenges to get help.
Study shows physical and mental health benefits of sports participation in adolescents
This article describes the results of a study on the benefits that sports can have for adolescents. Research shows that 12- to 14-year-olds who play team sports and are physically active feel healthier and are happier with their lives. The study concludes that participation in youth sports not only has the potential to increase satisfaction with life at a key time in development but also to improve school connectedness, social support, and bonding with peers.
Mental Health Month spotlight: Zack Greinke
This PsychCentral Mental Health Month spotlight article highlights Zack Greinke, an MLB pitcher. Greinke is not only known for his 60 mile per hour curveball, but also for deciding to take time off from baseball to dedicate himself to recovery from depression and social anxiety disorder. Through medication and counseling support, Greinke was able to return to the sport and show how possible it is for people struggling with mental disorders to overcome and manage their lives.
Former Celtics player discusses his struggle with addiction in new book
Chris Herren, a former National Basketball Association (NBA) player, began his recovery journey to address a substance use disorder years ago. In his book, Basketball Junkie: A Memoir, he tells how he came close to losing everything, including his loved ones, and how he has regained control of his life.
Holdsclaw recounts fight with depression
The lived experience of Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) player Chamique Holdsclaw is described in this article. In 2006, she wrote an autobiography in which she shares details of her depression and a suicide attempt that changed her life. Through her autobiography she works to demystify mental disorders and show that anyone can have one. In 2010, she joined a panel on emotional and physical well-being sponsored by the NFL and the Morehouse School of Medicine that addressed various issues like dementia, depression, substance use disorders, and financial stress. Also, Holdsclaw is a spokesperson for Active Minds, an organization that works with students to change views of mental disorders on college campuses. She has found a way to educate others about mental health, continue to make the most of her athletic talent, and fight her depression by staying active, being open with the people around her, and working through her feelings.
Dolphins' WR Brandon Marshall talks mental health
This article describes Brandon Marshall's 2011 visit to Harvard University to speak with students about mental health. He is an NFL player who has struggled with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and has learned how to manage his mental disorders effectively. In the introduction to his presentation to Harvard students, it was noted that a study had recently found that 44 percent of Harvard students do not seek counseling support when they feel they need it because they do not believe it works. Marshall encouraged students to take the good from his lived experience with BPD and success in therapy and to seek help, explaining that he could relate to the pressure that undergraduates feel. It is Marshall's hope to continue to work toward countering any misconceptions people have about mental disorders and treatment and to use his celebrity to become the face of mental health and raise awareness.
Clara Hughes conquers the dark weight of depression
In this article, six-time Olympic medal winner Clara Hughes describes her experience with depression in the hope that sharing her story will help decrease the negative and harmful attitudes and beliefs associated with depression. She talks about her symptoms, which included overtraining that led to an injury, weight gain, and excessive sleep, and how it was a national team doctor who made the connection between these behaviors and depression. Since Hughes has addressed her mental health challenges, she has become the national spokesperson for Let's Talk, a Canadian campaign that supports mental health services and has continued to work toward increasing awareness through billboard and television messaging.
Putting the pieces back together
This article describes the recovery journey of Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher Justin Duchscherer. The author recounts the emotional buildup of isolation and despair that Duchscherer experienced leading to his decision to put his professional baseball career on hold to seek mental health support for clinical depression. As happens for many professional athletes, the money, fame, and high-stress, high-demand environment Duchscherer was in took a toll on his mental health. Once he began seeking treatment for his depression and educating himself on mental disorders, self-acceptance set in. Also, the author notes that, for Duchscherer, the support of his team and agent was key to his recovery journey.
The price of being strong: Risks to the mental health of athletes
This article explores how susceptible athletes are to psychological strain as they endure great pressure during competitions and throughout their careers. The prevalence of chronic trauma and traumatic brain injury in athletes is also discussed, as depression, suicide ideation, and loss of focus are common symptoms associated with these types of trauma. The likelihood of facing some forms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as athletic careers come to a close for some is also explored, as PTSD has the potential to trigger depression or feelings of grief in retiring athletes. As a means of countering many of these risks, the author emphasizes the need for people to change the negative and harmful attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs held about mental disorders and embrace the idea of help as available and attainable. The support roles of family, friends, coaches, and teammates in identifying symptoms and encouraging athletes to seek help are also highlighted.
Behind the wins and losses: Changing the way mental health is viewed in sports
This April 2011 blog post discusses the prevalence of mental disorders among professional athletes. It notes that the 2011 suicide of Dave Duerson, former NFL player, and 2009 suicide of professional soccer player Robert Enke, highlighted the severity of this issue and need for support and changes in the way mental health is viewed and addressed in the sports world and society as a whole. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease caused by multiple concussions and head injuries, is described as a common condition among many athletes with symptoms that include depression, memory loss, aggression, dementia, and confusion. The author goes on to emphasize the need for an increase in public understanding of mental disorders, their impact on athletes, and the roles that they play in the lives of so many others.
Surfacing from depression
This USA Today article tells the story of Tiffany Clay, who at 18 received a swim scholarship to attend the University of Tennessee. Soon after she started college she began to feel overwhelmed and depressed. The many pressures of being a student-athlete while also adjusting to a new environment took a toll on her. She received support from her coach and a clinical social worker in the athletic department at her school. With major depression so prevalent among student-athletes, this article highlights the importance of building a support system on campus through which students can get the support they need.
Promotion of mental health through coaching competitive sports
Competing in sports has the potential to impact athletes' mental health greatly. The coach's overall approach to coaching, and the relationship the coach has with athletes, are also key factors in an athlete's mental health and overall development of human potential. This article highlights approaches to coaching that are healthy, emphasizing an instructor-mentor approach where coaches use sports as a vehicle to tutor and provide guidance for other life skills. This article also highlights various lessons to be taught and learned from healthy coaching relationships, including leadership skills and problem solving.
Early guidance, preventive therapy urged for young athletes
This article discusses the 2012 suicide of former National Football League (NFL) player Junior Seau while also exploring professional athletes' vulnerability to development of mental disorders like depression. It describes sports-related psychological therapy in high school as a means of preventing later mental health problems and also of helping young athletes prepare for the professional realm. The article notes that, if visits with a psychiatrist were a mandatory part of a professional athlete's job, these visits could serve as a method of ongoing support and could also help normalize mental health care.