PESS/HRI Seminar: Challenges for mental health among elite athletes & sport psychologists


“Challenges for mental health among elite athletes and sport psychologists: The role of the participants voice”

Seminar Summary

It has long been assumed that elite athletes are less vulnerable to mental health issues than the general population due to their regular participation in physical activity. However, recent research has emerged to contradict this assertion, suggesting that athletes may be at equal or increased risk of encountering psychological distress. Prolonged exposure to the physiological, psychological, competitive and organisational stressors associated with high-level sport can be potentially detrimental to athletes’ mental well-being. The Duty of Care report published this year on the welfare of Team GB athletes has highlighted the importance of prioritising athletes mental well-being for generation 2020 and beyond. This includes the welfare of athletes, coaches and those supporting their performance (e.g., sport scientists and sport psychologists).

Hosted by the department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences (PESS) and the Health Sciences Research Institute (HRI), this symposium comprises a series of  studies on the mental health and psychological well-being of elite athletes. A qualitative approach was employed to enable the athletes voice to be communicated. Diverse studies highlight experiences of sporting transitions, injury and episodes of depression. An interesting issue is the perception of stigma towards mental health issues, which across the studies is a major barrier to improving the well-being of athletes. The challenges of well-being for consulting sport psychologists is also addressed. It is important that those whose role is to enhance performance also maintain their own well-being even in the Olympic Games environment. Together the presentations provide a snapshot of the state of play of mental health and psychological well-being across elite player athlete samples, augmented by the experiences of practitioner psychologists.

Presentations by Jessie Barr MSc., (PESS) Hannah McCormack MSc., (PESS) Maire-Treasa NiCheallaigh (UL) and Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre (PESS)

Date: Monday 4th December 2017

Time: 5.00pm

Venue: UL Pavillion

RSVP: For the purpose of catering please RSVP to by Friday 1st December 6.00pm

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