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Special Issue "Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Sport Workforce"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Mental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 December 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Fraser Carson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Sport Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC 3220, Australia
Interests: health psychology; psychological wellbeing; stress and coping; sport coaching; women in sport; women in leadership

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Numerous anecdotal and media reports have highlighted the prevalence of mental health and wellbeing issues within sport and exercise settings. While scientific research has focused on the athlete, other key individuals in the sport, exercise, and physical activity workforce have to date been overlooked. Many of these individuals are forced to deal with the often uncontrollable, unpredictable, complex, and nonlinear nature of sport, which can subject them to significant stressors. These stressors may contribute to high stress levels, burnout, and critical health situations, such as depression. Occupational health research has highlighted that excessive exposure to stress can led to emotional exhaustion and withdrawal from sport. Attrition is a major issue facing individuals in the sport workforce, as many work long hours with little reward or recognition. Similarly, many sports organisations do not have the resources or expertise to support those employed in their industry. Despite some growing awareness of the mental health and wellbeing in sport, there is still a dearth of empirical literature in this area.

This Special Issue seeks papers related to mental health and wellbeing of all those involved in the sport and exercise workforce, including coaches, officials, strength and conditioning professionals, service providers, administrators and organisations/associations (from community to elite levels). The primary focus is on two main areas of interest: (1) factors impacting the mental health and wellbeing of individuals in the workforce, and (2) evidence-based interventions aimed at improving mental health and wellbeing.

Dr. Fraser Carson
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Mental health
  • Wellbeing
  • Stress
  • Burnout
  • Coping
  • Sport industry
  • Coaches
  • Officials
  • Administrators

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Article
Anxiety and Depression Symptoms and Suicidal Ideation in Japan Rugby Top League Players
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(3), 1205; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18031205 - 29 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1552
Abstract
Clinical and research interest is growing in mental health support for elite athletes, based on findings from epidemiological surveys conducted in Australia, the United States, and European countries. However, little is known about the mental health status of elite athletes in Asia, including [...] Read more.
Clinical and research interest is growing in mental health support for elite athletes, based on findings from epidemiological surveys conducted in Australia, the United States, and European countries. However, little is known about the mental health status of elite athletes in Asia, including Japan. In the current study, we examine the prevalence of mental health problems and suicidal ideation and its risk factors in Japan Rugby Top League players. We analyze anonymous web-based self-reported data from 251 currently competing Japan Rugby Top League male players. During the off-season from December 2019 to January 2020, data on anxiety and depression symptoms were collected using the Japanese version of the 6-item Kessler-6. Suicidal ideation was assessed using the Baron Depression Screener for Athletes. Among the players, 81 players (32.3%) had experienced symptoms of mild anxiety and depression during the previous 30 days, while 12 (4.8%) and 13 (5.2%) had suffered from moderate and severe symptoms, respectively. Nineteen athletes (7.6%) reported that they had experienced suicidal ideation during the previous 2 weeks. Players with mental health problems experienced more events in competitions and daily life, including reduced subjective performance, missing opportunities to play during the last season, changes in health condition, and thinking about a career after retirement, compared with players without such problems. Mental health issues in Japan Rugby Top League players, as elite athletes, may be common, and research and practice development is expected in the near future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Sport Workforce)
Article
Exploring Mental Health and Illness in the UK Sports Coaching Workforce
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(24), 9332; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17249332 - 13 Dec 2020
Viewed by 890
Abstract
There is growing international concern about the mental health of those who work in sport, including coaches. However, we currently know little about the prevalence of mental illness and the experience of mental health among coaches, and their perceptions and use of workplace [...] Read more.
There is growing international concern about the mental health of those who work in sport, including coaches. However, we currently know little about the prevalence of mental illness and the experience of mental health among coaches, and their perceptions and use of workplace mental health support services. Little is also known about coaches’ disclosure of mental illness to, and seeking help from, work colleagues. We explore these issues using data from 202 coaches who responded to the first United Kingdom survey of mental health in the sport and physical activity workforce. In total, 55% of coaches reported having ever experienced a mental illness, and 44% currently did, with coaches in grassroots/community settings being most likely to experience mental illness. Depression and anxiety were the most commonly reported conditions and many coaches preferred to access mental health support outside of the organisation for whom they worked or volunteered, with decisions to seek help from others in the workplace being shaped by complex organisational and personal considerations. The findings suggest there is an important public health challenge which needs to be met among coaches, so that we can better address a question of fundamental importance: ‘who is looking after the people looking after the people’? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Sport Workforce)
Article
Coach Burnout in Relation to Perfectionistic Cognitions and Self-Presentation
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(23), 8812; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17238812 - 27 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 748
Abstract
Coaching athletes is highly rewarding yet stressful, especially at the elite level where media, fans, and sponsors can contribute to an environment that, if not well-managed by the coach, can lead to burnout. Coaches who display perfectionistic tendencies, such as striving for flawlessness, [...] Read more.
Coaching athletes is highly rewarding yet stressful, especially at the elite level where media, fans, and sponsors can contribute to an environment that, if not well-managed by the coach, can lead to burnout. Coaches who display perfectionistic tendencies, such as striving for flawlessness, may be particularly vulnerable—even more so if they are overly critical of themselves and have a tendency to ruminate over their performance, or if they are attempting to convey an image of faultlessness, or both. A total of 272 coaches completed a battery of inventories assessing burnout, perfectionistic thoughts, and the tendency for perfectionistic self-presentation. All variables correlated significantly: coaches with higher scores on exhaustion scored higher both on perfectionistic thoughts and self-presentation. However, when three subscales of perfectionistic self-presentation were considered separately, lower and nonsignificant correlations emerged. We believe that this can be explained by the heterogeneous group of coaches participating in this study. Whereas all coaches may at times ruminate privately—self-oriented perfectionism—about their perceived failure to perform to expectations, not all may feel the pressure to present themselves to others as faultless—a more socially prescribed perfectionism. This finding warrants further investigation, preferably comparing coaches at different levels of public scrutiny. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Sport Workforce)
Article
Examining Negative Emotional Symptoms and Psychological Wellbeing of Australian Sport Officials
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(21), 8265; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17218265 - 09 Nov 2020
Viewed by 902
Abstract
Sports officials are exposed to numerous performance and personal stressors, however little is known about their mental health and psychological wellbeing. This study investigated levels of mental health and psychological wellbeing of sports officials in Australia, and the demographic, officiating, and workplace factors [...] Read more.
Sports officials are exposed to numerous performance and personal stressors, however little is known about their mental health and psychological wellbeing. This study investigated levels of mental health and psychological wellbeing of sports officials in Australia, and the demographic, officiating, and workplace factors associated with these outcomes. An online survey consisting of demographic and officiating questions, and measures of work engagement, mental health and psychological wellbeing was completed by 317 officials. A negative emotional symptoms score was computed. Associations between key demographic, officiating, and workplace factors with negative emotional symptoms and psychological wellbeing were assessed using univariate and multivariate analyses. Officials who were younger, not in a committed relationship, having lower levels of education, and less officiating experience reported higher levels of negative emotional symptoms, while males, older than 50 years, in a committed relationship and more officiating experience had higher levels of psychological wellbeing. The ability to self-manage workload and demonstrate professional autonomy were strongly associated with negative emotional symptoms and psychological wellbeing. Officials reported high negative emotional symptoms, but also high levels of psychological wellbeing. The ability to manage workload and to express professional autonomy are important determinants of mental health and wellbeing levels of sports officials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Sport Workforce)
Article
Impact of Job Insecurity on Psychological Well- and Ill-Being among High Performance Coaches
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(19), 6939; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17196939 - 23 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1707
Abstract
Background: The evaluative nature of high performance (HP) sport fosters performance expectations that can be associated with harsh scrutiny, criticism, and job insecurity. In this context, (HP) sport is described as a highly competitive, complex, and turbulent work environment. The aim of this [...] Read more.
Background: The evaluative nature of high performance (HP) sport fosters performance expectations that can be associated with harsh scrutiny, criticism, and job insecurity. In this context, (HP) sport is described as a highly competitive, complex, and turbulent work environment. The aim of this longitudinal, quantitative study was to explore whether HP coaches’ perceptions of job insecurity and job value incongruence in relation to work would predict their psychological well- and ill-being over time. Methods: HP coaches (n = 299) responded to an electronic questionnaire at the start, middle, and end of a competitive season, designed to measure the following: job insecurity, values, psychological well-being (vitality and satisfaction with work), and psychological ill-being (exhaustion and cynicism). Structural equation model analyses were conducted using Mplus. Results: Experiencing higher levels of job insecurity during the middle of the season significantly predicted an increase in coaches’ psychological ill-being, and a decrease in their psychological well-being at the end of the season. However, value incongruence did not have a significant longitudinal impact. Conclusions: These findings cumulatively indicate that coaches’ perceptions of job insecurity matter to their psychological health at work. Consequently, it is recommended that coaches and organizations acknowledge and discuss how to handle job security within the HP sport context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Sport Workforce)
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Article
Types of Cognitive Appraisal and Undertaken Coping Strategies during Sport Competitions
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(18), 6522; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17186522 - 08 Sep 2020
Viewed by 841
Abstract
The main aim of the research was to distinguish different types of sport competition appraisals and verify if athletes’ interpretation of a stressful situation changed their choice of coping methods. Athletes change their perception during competitions; thus, we assumed that configuration of different [...] Read more.
The main aim of the research was to distinguish different types of sport competition appraisals and verify if athletes’ interpretation of a stressful situation changed their choice of coping methods. Athletes change their perception during competitions; thus, we assumed that configuration of different ways of interpreting stressful events is more important for coping than one particular appraisal. In total, 193 athletes filled out The Stress Appraisal Questionnaire and The Sport Stress-Coping Strategies Questionnaire to describe their stress appraisals and undertaken coping strategies during a remembered competition that took place within a month before the study. The athletes most often appraised stressful competitions as a challenge. They preferred the coping strategy of being determined to accomplish the established goal. The athletes hardly applied techniques that constituted the basis of mental training. The cluster analysis of the competitors determined three types of sport competition appraisals: positive, negative, and active. An ANOVA with post hoc comparisons showed that participants who revealed positive appraisals undertook the highest number of actions aimed at reaching goals and least frequently sought support. Athletes should be taught not only specific strategies for coping with stress, but also more frequent use of positive judgments of sports competitions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Sport Workforce)
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Article
Elite Football Coaches Experiences and Sensemaking about Being Fired: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(14), 5196; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17145196 - 18 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1938
Abstract
Background: Chronic job insecurity seems to be a prominent feature within elite sport, where coaches work under pressure of dismissals if failing to meet performance expectations of stakeholders. The aim of the current study was to get a deeper understanding of elite football [...] Read more.
Background: Chronic job insecurity seems to be a prominent feature within elite sport, where coaches work under pressure of dismissals if failing to meet performance expectations of stakeholders. The aim of the current study was to get a deeper understanding of elite football coaches’ experiences of getting fired and how they made sense of that process. Method: A qualitative design using semi-structured interviews was conducted with six elite football coaches who were fired within the same season. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was chosen as framework to analyze the data. Results: The results reflected five emerging themes: Acceptance of having an insecure job, working for an unprofessional organization and management, micro-politics in the organization, unrealistic and changing performance expectation, and emotional responses. Conclusion: All coaches expressed awareness and acceptance regarding the risk of being fired. However, they experienced a lack of transparency and clear feedback regarding the causes of dismissal. This led to negative emotional reactions as the coaches experienced being evaluated by poorly defined expectations and by anonymous stakeholders. Sports organizations as employers should strive to be transparent during dismissal. In addition, job insecurity is a permanent stressor for coaches and should be acknowledged and targeted within coach education. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Sport Workforce)
Article
Examining the Mental Well-Being of Australian Sport Coaches
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(23), 4601; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph16234601 - 20 Nov 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1237
Abstract
Background: Research has highlighted the multitude of factors that are negatively associated with coach mental well-being but has failed to investigate how the determinants of mental well-being can affect the coach both positively and negatively. Accordingly, the aim of this study was to [...] Read more.
Background: Research has highlighted the multitude of factors that are negatively associated with coach mental well-being but has failed to investigate how the determinants of mental well-being can affect the coach both positively and negatively. Accordingly, the aim of this study was to investigate levels of mental well-being among sport coaches and assess whether areas of work life—specifically workload and control—are related to levels of mental well-being. Method: An online survey comprising demographic and coaching experience details, the Areas of Work Life Scale (AWS), and the Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale was completed by 464 Australian coaches involved in a range of sports. Differences in coach mental well-being according to key demographic and coaching-related subgroups were assessed using separate t-test and ANOVA analyses and the magnitude of effects was determined using Cohen’s d and the eta-squared (ή2) statistics. Multiple linear regression was used to examine relationships between both workload and control and mental well-being after controlling for age, gender, coaching setting and weekly coaching activity. Results: The findings indicate poorer mental well-being among both male and younger coaches and indicate that coach mental well-being is related to the ability to self-manage the workload associated with their role as a coach as well as greater autonomy over coaching-related tasks and activities. Specifically, a one-unit increase in AWS workload and AWS control were associated with ~three- and ~four-unit increases in coach mental well-being, respectively. Conclusion: Greater provision of resources and education is required to assist coaches to manage their own mental well-being, while being supported by the organisation they coach for. Enabling coaches to balance their coaching requirements and to have control over their environment will improve their ability to constantly coach at a high standard. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Sport Workforce)
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