WHAT WE KNOW

The Facts

Although athletes may suffer from any/all manner of psychological disorders, commonly reported mental health concerns among athletes include:

Burnout – diminished satisfaction from sport participation.

Eating disorders, particularly (although not exclusively) among female athletes.

Various causes of anxiety and depression – injury or injury rehabilitation, burnout, and retirement from sport are often cited.

Excessive or risky behaviour – consumption of alcohol and recreational drugs or exercise addiction; and

Changes in mood state or cognitive ability – particularly related to recurring head trauma in sport.

Injuries are particularly found to be associated with depression in athletes.

There is a view that athletes who do seek help for psychological problems may be seen as weak by other athletes and coaches.

A focus group study found that athletes would be worried about others finding out if they were

seeking help for a mental health problem.

Athletes were asked to define mental toughness in their own words and found that mental toughness provided the performer a psychological advantage over their opponents. They also found that mentally tough performers consistently remained determined, focused, confident and in control.

Mental illness can impact on personal and sporting life; this can then lead to performance issues and in turn increase their injury risk.

of Australian athletes
surveyed, experienced
symptoms of at least one
mental health issue

of Australian athletes
surveyed experienced
depression

of injured Australian
athletes
discussed their
psychological issues during
treatment