Henry Ryan – University of Colorado – Colorado Springs
Thomas, J. Aicher – University of Colorado – Colorado Springs
Sarah Stokowski – Clemson University
Amanda Paule-Koba – Bowling Green State University
Mental health is a topic of increasing interest for athletics administrators and sport researchers. Although the majority of student-athletes compete in Divisions II and III, most mental health research has centered on the Division I athlete population, primarily focusing on high-profile sports. Therefore, the goal of this study was to understand Division II baseball and softball players’ understanding of mental health and mental health services, barriers to use, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their mental health. Using purposive sampling, 15 athletes competing in baseball or softball at the Division II level were interviewed. Understanding of Mental health, Barriers (e.g., stigma, macho mentality), Need for Services (e.g., awareness of service, lack of services), Personal Experiences and Support, and COVID-19 Impact emerged as themes among participants. These results bolster previous research on barriers and stigmas associated with mental health services among male athletes and highlight the need for education and awareness around mental health services.