Stepping Outside of their Comfort Zone: Perceptions of Seeking Behavioral Health Services amongst College Athletes

Matt Moore – Ball State University


Research has indicated that college athletes are at risk for a number of mental health problems—including depression, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, and disordered eating. An athlete’s willingness to seek out mental health services however is not fully understood. This study examined the level of comfort that college athletes have with seeking mental health services. Additionally, this study explored characteristics associated with reluctance in seeking mental health services. This study used a web-based survey to gather information from college athletes (N = 349). The researcher used descriptive and multivariate tests to analyze the data. This study found that college athletes reported feeling less comfortable seeking mental health services in comparison to services that support academic and athletic growth. Additionally, NCAA division level impacted the degree of comfort with seeking mental health services. Division I athletes felt significantly less comfortable seeking mental health services that Division II and III athletes. The profile of the sport played (high or low) did not significantly impact comfort levels. Future research should examine strategies for addressing barriers related to mental health stigma, athletic culture, ecological factors, and factors related to service delivery.