2019 – Karin Moesch (abstract)

Mental health in elite athletes: symptoms and prevention

Karin Moesch, PhD

Swedish Sports Confederation, Lund University, FEPSAC

There is an inherent assumption within the context of elite sports that athletes are mentally tough and manage the challenges of the elite sport life without any difficulty. This assumption is insofar problematic, because it impedes those athletes who are struggling with mental health problems (such as stress-related problems, sleep difficulties, and anxiety) from talking about how there are feeling and through from having a chance to get the support they would need. In recent years, more and more well-known athletes such as Michael Phelps and Lindsay Vonn publicly talked about their mental health problems, which has led to an increased focus on this topic in the world of sports.

In the first part of the presentation, I will raise awareness about some of the mental health problems that elite athletes can experience. Symptoms of different disorders, as well as their appearance in the world of sports will be discussed. Moreover, some of the sport-specific risk factors will be raised that potentially can impact the athletes´ mental health. In the second part of the presentation, I will present some ideas about how to work with prevention of mental health problems. For instance, a positive environment can lead to flourishing in athletes. Likewise, there are specific topics that athletes can work on to optimize their mental health and decrease the risk to develop mental health problems.