Student-Athlete Perceptions of Stress, Support, and Seeking Mental Health Services

Betsy A. Cutler – Cutler Wellness Programs
Brendan Dwyer – Virginia Commonwealth University

Due to several factors, intercollegiate student-athletes have more demands on their time thanever before. Many feel they have more than a full-time job when one considers the academic andathletic expectations. In addition to these two facets, one must also consider external aspectsincluding family and social life, and for some athletes, employment. Given these factors, studentathlete mental health is a real concern. The current study surveyed 158 Division I athletes fromfour universities seeking to explore perceptions of stress, coping mechanisms, support fromcoaches and some athletic department personnel, and the stigma of seeking help. The resultsindicated student-athletes perceive stress impacting their daily life, but in different forms.Student-athletes were also more likely to seek help from non-team support staff than coaches andteam-related support staff, and in general, perceived teammates who sought mental healthtreatment more positively than their perception of how their teammate would treat otherteammates. The theoretical and practical implications of these results were discussed as werelimitations and areas for future research.