Men, Mental Health and Elite Sport: a Narrative Review

SOUTER, Gary, LEWIS, Robin and SERRANT, Laura (2018). Men, Mental Health and Elite Sport: a Narrative Review. Sports Medicine Open, 4 (1), p. 57.

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Mental health in elite sport is receiving more publicity due to an increase in male athletes sharing their personal experiences. Sports injury is recognised as the major risk factor for psychological distress amongst male athletes, although anecdotally this may be that athletes are more likely to discuss their emotional wellbeing when related to the injury they are experiencing. Stress can be amplified within elite sport and the pressure they experience in relation to competition and performance can be exacerbated by adverse life events. This ongoing stress does not end when their sporting career does, it can follow them into retirement. The physical and psychological demands placed upon them by the sporting environment may predispose athletes to developing depression. As an athlete's symptoms of mental illness intensify, their performance can be negatively affected leaving them vulnerable and exposed to further symptoms of common mental disorders. The pressure of performance can also expose male athletes to overtraining syndrome which can be difficult to distinguish from depression. Male athletes are more vulnerable to eating disorders compared with males in the general population and they do have anxieties, particularly around their bodies, but find it difficult to disclose their concerns. In addition to this, male athletes are more likely to use substances, including opioids to improve both sport and non-sport performance.Despite the prevalence of common mental disorders in male athletes, stigma still exists, and although some athletes discuss their issues publicly after their career has ended, the majority of athletes prefer to remain silent. There remains a view that athletes who seek help for psychological problems may be seen as weak. Although there is an improvement in help-seeking attitudes within elite sport, further research and education is needed to encourage men to talk about their mental health, share their experiences and to enjoy a greater sense of emotional wellbeing.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Depression; Elite performance; Injury; Male; Mental health; Stress
Identification Number:
Page Range: p. 57
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 02 Jan 2019 11:35
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 07:06

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