Back to top anchor

Mental Health in Elite Athletes

36 months
Approved budget:
Mr Connor Silvester
Dr Liesje Donkin
Professor Dr Patria Hume
Health issue:
Mental health (and sleep disorders)
Proposal type:
Clinical Research Training Fellowship
Lay summary
Emerging evidence suggests that elite athletes are exposed to high levels of stressors and thus have an increased vulnerability for developing mental illness. Mental health stigma and organisational cultures often amplify these stressors, wherein elite athletes are hesitant to access mental health support services. Meanwhile, the mental health support that is available is often of low quality and not confidential, meaning athletes often ‘suffer in silence’. Indeed, sporting organisations within Aotearoa/New Zealand have recently been criticized for failures to protect athlete wellbeing. In response to this, this study proposes the development of a mental health screening tool for use within New Zealand/Aotearoa elite sporting populations. The development and implementation of such a tool would facilitate an improved understanding of the prevalence of mental illness within elite athletes in New Zealand/Aotearoa, guide the development policy and practice recommendations in a culturally appropriate manner, and ultimately assist organisations in promoting athlete wellbeing.