The public and media are becoming increasingly focused on understanding mental health and the stigmas that prevent people from receiving professional help. Athletes are especially under scrutiny in this area, as they are expected to be “mentally strong” despite external and internal pressures. Recently, well-known professional athletes such as Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, and Naomi Osaka have spoken out in an effort to normalize athletes’ coping with mental health. While the best-known advocates compete in individual sports, all athletes may be susceptible to struggles and stigma. We are interested in exploring differences between team and individual sports, gender, and race in regard to attitudes surrounding mental health. Through a meta-analysis of academic and popular sources related to athletes' mental health complemented by interviews with Binghamton University student-athletes involved in team sports, we explore the correlation between athletes’ identities and mental health. Of particular interest is whether an athlete's race or gender affects the way the public responds when someone speaks out on these issues, as well as whether participating in individual or team sports is a factor. Do athletes feel free to be open about their struggles, or does stigma encourage silence? Given the prestige of athletes in American society, their advocacy has the potential to help normalize mental health on the same level as physical health.
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Hoff, Maya; Walsh, Jordan; and Well, Sarah, "Race and Gender’s Effect on the Prevalence and Perception of Mental Health in Athletes" (2022). Research Days Posters 2022. 108.