Examining the Incidence of Reporting Mental Health Diagnosis Between College Student Athletes and Non-Athlete Students and the Impact on Academic Performance

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Objective: Compare collegiate athletes to non-athlete students for mental health diagnosis, treatment, and mental health impacts on academic performance.


articipants: Students, including club and varsity athletes, from a large Midwestern U.S. NCAA Division 1 university (N = 2167).

Methods: American College Health Association (ACHA)-NCHA II (2010–2016) survey data were analyzed using chi square tests for between-groups differences and gender effects on mental health diagnoses, treatment, and academic impacts of mental health.

Results: Compared to athletes, non-athletes reported higher rates of anxiety, eating, mood, sleep, and other disorders. Controlling for gender, these differences were not significant. Regardless of gender, athletes sought treatment less often than non-athletes. Athletes reported anxiety, sleep, alcohol/drugs, extracurricular activities and injuries as major academic impediments.

Conclusions: Mental health diagnosis rates were lower in athletes, but appeared to be an artifact of gender differences between groups. However, less treatment-seeking and academic impacts mean that ongoing attention to mental health is vital to student-athlete well-being.



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