Research Topic

Mental health challenges in elite sport: balancing risk with reward

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About this Research Topic

A growing research base suggests that the high performance environment has the potential to be a risky domain for many elite performers. This evidence has accumulated across disparate topics relating to elite sport including eating disorders among males, post-event depression, stigma towards accessing service ...

A growing research base suggests that the high performance environment has the potential to be a risky domain for many elite performers. This evidence has accumulated across disparate topics relating to elite sport including eating disorders among males, post-event depression, stigma towards accessing service provision in psychology and the emergence of organizational stress as a catalyst for mental health challenges in sport systems. At present, while it is challenging to quantify the precise extent and nature of the problem it is critical that stakeholders in high performance sport become aware of the current trend. This research topic addresses this problem of mental health challenges from an interdisciplinary perspective. We welcome a broad range of empirical and conceptual and review submissions including case studies, single cohort investigations, meta-analytic and narrative reviews, and commentaries. Ideally, submissions should be theoretically or conceptually driven. In addition to revisiting issues such as overtraining, burnout and dropout based on the Mental Health Model of Sport Performance, we are especially interested in highlighting the new issues that have arisen in elite sport which are not linked to training load. For example, Eating disorders and disordered eating have been linked to sub-cultures within for example aesthetic sports, and these have been shown not simply to be specific to female athletes Moreover, the Female Athlete Triad has been re-conceptualised as a challenge of relative energy deficiency syndrome. Similarly the prevalence of sport injuries including concussion and other sport related injuries are only recently coming to the fore in elite and professional sport settings. The aforementioned issues would fit aptly with our research topic. Similarly, interventions that are designed to address mental health issues in sport also fits within our remit. For instance, attempts at screening elite athletes pre-season, educating them on mental health first aid, de-briefing athletes post-championship or providing resilience training are among the array of interventions now employed. This research topic will provide a forum for investigations on the etiology, prevalence and prevention of mental health challenges in elite sport from an interdisciplinary perspective which is necessary to understand more precisely the balance between the risks and rewards of elite sport.


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