Date of Graduation
College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences
Sport and Exercise Psychology
Efforts are being made to promote mental health awareness and destigmatize help-seeking behavior among student-athletes (e.g., Kern et al., 2017). The availability and visibility of practitioners with specialized training in sport psychology can facilitate these efforts (e.g., Flowers, 2007; Carr, 2007; McDuff et al., 2005). However, some student-athletes have observed that the clinical sport psychology (CSP) practitioners who are available to them are being stretched thin (Way et al., 2020). In the context of collegiate mental health more broadly, many campus counseling centers are struggling to meet the demand for clinical services (e.g., Kafka, 2019). Research on the experiences and perspectives of CSP practitioners in the collegiate setting has been scarce (cf. Schlimmer & Chin, 2018), and has neglected the vantage point of practitioners who support student-athletes at institutions that do not have access to sport psychology services (cf. Petrie et al., 1995). As such, the first objective of this study was to expand upon the work of Hayden and colleagues (2013) to identify the population of clinical and applied sport psychology practitioners from all NCAA member institution websites (Power 5 conferences, all other DI, DII, and DIII). The second objective was to survey the experiences of these practitioners and counseling/psychological services staff at institutions that did not list CSP personnel. As a whole, practitioners reported that some generalized services (e.g., personal counseling available to all students, crisis intervention) were more in-demand among student-athletes than specialized sport-specific services. Sport psychology services were more common at P5 and other DI institutions, but also more likely to be stretched or exceeded by demand relative to similar services at DII and DIII institutions. At the risk of reducing service availability to a numerical tally of haves and have-nots, quantitative and qualitative data shed light on the ways in which practitioners experienced and were impacted by the structure, function, availability of, and institutional support for psychological services. In their open-ended responses, the most prevalent need that practitioners expressed was for more staffing (more staff, more diverse staff, and more multidisciplinary staff). Results invite athletics and institutional administration to consider the loads that are being shouldered by mental health and sport psychology staff at their institutions; the voice and support that is granted to these practitioners; and the value of robust mental health services/outreach for recruitment, retention, and risk management.
Way, William C. III, "Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Student-Athletes: A Descriptive Study of Practitioners and their Perspectives" (2021). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8018.