About this Research Topic
Research attention for high-level athletes’ mental health has increased over the past decade including a focus on psychological resilience. They are an at-risk group with higher levels of psychological distress. However, there is variability in their experience of mental ill health e.g., demographics, culture, societal and environmental influences as well as an array of risk and protective factors. Athletes’ ability to make benefit from adversity is marked by early evidence suggesting a dichotomous mental health state (maladjustment followed by resilience). Systematic review and an athlete-specific psychological resilience instrument are required to raise the efficacy of studies. Digital mental health services offer a complementary approach to the challenge of cohort engagement. However, a multitude of ambitious innovation in digital solutions has been put into gridlock because of a lack of efficacy and evaluation. Integrated methodologies are required for faster and accurate preventive strategies and intervention.
What makes high-level athletes special in their psychological resilience? How does their ability to make benefit from adversity contribute to a better understanding of the sequalae of mental ill-health as well as symptom and disorder interpretation? How can digital mental health implementation help collect data and make it actionable? Systematic review is required i.e., theoretical, experimental, and qualitative designs, narrative reviews and commentaries have limited effectiveness in existing studies. Higher levels of evidence and reduction of heterogeneity are required. There is an array of studies marked by individual or homogenous case–control, correlational/cohort studies, low quality randomized controlled studies (e.g., <80% follow-up), and not yet validated in different populations. Recent advances have described the “transitional process” – studies are required with baseline comparisons of stress and maladjustment with higher levels of functioning. Longitudinal studies are required to demonstrate psychological resilience and inverse relationship with mental ill-health e.g., modification of a resilience instrument to measure athlete psychological resilience and determine the correlations with demographic and psychological variables e.g., maladjustment, perceived stress, recent life experience experiences, depression and anxiety, as well as athlete burnout.
The scope of the research may include, but is not limited to, the following (themes may be addressed separately or together):
• Develop athlete psychological resilience instrument – validate with international and general population comparisons.
• Establish a causal pathway between athlete psychological resilience and perceived stress correlated to maladjustment.
• Implement a systematic approach to understand the relationship between stress and resilience.
• Determine the influence of sociocultural/environmental support and demands.
• Analyze underlying processes of athlete psychological resilience – personal and situational factors, adjustment to stress and withstanding sociocultural/environmental demands.
• Describe implementation of coping strategies and interventions among resilient athletes.
• Integrate athlete psychological resilience studies with digital mental health implementation – apply online screening and tracking tools with real-time automation and machine learning (including unstructured data).
• Propose practical strategy, codesign and collaboration between developers and end users for how technology is applied in research, evaluation, and subpopulation mental healthcare e.g., Platforms/web-based apps, Explainable Artificial Intelligence, digital solutions and responsible outcomes in equity, access, and ethics.
• Develop and/or use an eminent digital mental health platform and apps - identify and illustrate the steps, interactions, touchpoints a user and mental health practitioner encounters as they move through screening, tracking, and intervention/treatment.
• Develop resilience-themed engagement strategies for anti-stigma/mental health awareness education with high-level athletes and link research findings to the general population.
Type of manuscripts of interest: Original Research, Systematic Review, Methods, Clinical Trial, Case Report, Community Case Study, Conceptual Analysis, Data Report, Brief Research Report, Registered Report, Technology and Code, Study Protocol
Keywords: Athlete, stress, cultural differences, social environment, psychological resilience, digital mental health implementation, technology
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