Term of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Department

Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

Megan Byrd

Committee Member 1

Brandonn Harris

Committee Member 2

Pamela Wells

Abstract

Male athletes are less likely than female athletes to seek out support services (Barnard, 2016) despite experiencing a myriad of clinical and subclinical concerns including depression (Davoren & Hwang, 2014; Wolanin et al., 2016), anxiety (Davoren & Hwang, 2014), eating disorders (Joy et al., 2016; Sundgot-Borgen & Torstveit, 2004), and substance use (NCAA, 2018). To combat the increasing rates of mental health concerns, support services are becoming more readily available for collegiate athletes (Moore, 2016). However, despite the recent effort in increasing athlete mental health support, many male athletes in particular remain reluctant to seek out such services (Barnard, 2016). Prior research has focused extensively on prevalence rates of mental health-related concerns and help-seeking barriers that prevent collegiate athletes from seeking out help (Gulliver et al., 2012; Yousaf et al., 2015), yet research remains nonexistent in exploring these areas in male collegiate athletes from a practitioner’s perspective. Thus, the present study expanded on previous research by examining the experiences of 10 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I practitioners working with male athletes and what strategies are most effective in making support services more accessible for them. A generic qualitative approach was employed and three major themes were identified: (a) presenting concerns, (b) influences to help-seeking, and (c) strategies to increase accessibility. The results of the study indicate that male collegiate athletes present with a number of mental health- and sport-related concerns, but are more likely to seek out support for sport-related concerns. Furthermore, several help-seeking influences, including barriers and facilitators, affect a male athletes’ willingness to seek out such services including stigma, coach and sport environment, cultural factors, lack of time and flexibility, and the source of referral. Strategies to address the aforementioned influences include destigmatization, coach training, practitioner diversity, service awareness and education, relationship building, and additional practitioners. Practical implications and recommendations for future research are also discussed.

Research Data and Supplementary Material

No

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