Developing mental health literacy and cultural competence in elite sport

Paul Gorczynski, Alan Currie, Kass Gibson, Vincent Gouttebarge, Brian Hainline, Joao Mauricio Castaldelli-Maia, Margo Mountjoy, Rosemary Purcell, Claudia L. Reardon, Simon Rice, Leslie Swartz

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Mental health symptoms and disorders amongst elite athletes have attracted a great deal of discussion recently. Current epidemiological evidence illustrates that mental health symptoms and disorders in elite athletes are prevalent and a concern for athletes, coaches, and sport organizations. Recently, seven consensus, expert, or position statements have been written on the topic of mental health in elite sport. A strategy suggested by each of the seven statements – aimed at preventing and treating mental health symptoms and disorders in elite athletes, both individually and systemically – is to employ education interventions, specifically those based on increasing mental health literacy. Mental health literacy has come to include concepts related to knowledge of effective self-management strategies, challenging mental disorder stigma, awareness and use of mental health first-aid to assist others, and the facilitation of help seeking behaviors. In elite sport, questions remain about how mental health literacy can address the unique needs of the individual athlete, but also factor in their culture and their environment to identify how to prevent and treat mental health symptoms and disorders. The purpose of this commentary is twofold: 1) to explore the evolving concept of mental health literacy within elite sport which addresses individuals, their culture, and their environment, and 2) to propose strategies for best practice and research in mental health literacy within elite sport relying on collaboration between sports psychiatry, sport psychology, and clinical psychology.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Sport Psychology
Early online date28 Jan 2020
Publication statusEarly online - 28 Jan 2020


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