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“Gonna Mess with Your Head”: The Role of Mental Health in the Lived Experiences of Black Male Football College Athletes – Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics

“Gonna Mess with Your Head”: The Role of Mental Health in the Lived Experiences of Black Male Football College Athletes

Authors
Todd A. Wilkerson – Langston University
Alison Fridley – University of Southern Mississippi
Skye Arthur-Banning – Clemson University
Thomas J. Aicher – University of Colorado-Colorado Springs
Sarah Stokowski – Clemson University

Abstract
Black college athletes are at an elevated risk of mental health struggles, and yet, have not received the same attention in the literature as their White counterparts. Cognitive-motivational-relational theory of emotion was used as the theoretical foundation to examine the role of mental health in Black college athletes. Through a phenomenological approach, this qualitative study sought to understand the views of Black college athletes regarding the extent to which mental health impacts their lives. Specifically, this study addressed the question: How do Black male NCAA Division I football college athletes describe the role of mental health within their lives? Eight Black football college athletes at an NCAA Division I power five university agreed to participate in this study. The data emerged into two major themes: stress (subthemes: stress, injury, and family) and “We don’t need it!” (subthemes: support and performance). The results suggest the need for athletic department to offer stress management programs to support this specific college athlete population.

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