NCAA DI Student-Athletes’ Understanding of and Attitudes Toward Mental Performance Services

Abstract

Mental performance services are designed to assist student-athletes with psychological challenges affiliated with performance (McHenry et al., 2022). Currently, only 65 NCAA DI athletic institutions employ a psychological provider, with only 23.2% of those being mental performance consultants (MPCs; Jones et al., 2022). As student athletes are aware of the mental demand of sport (Bemiller & Wrisberg, 2011) and the NCAA begins to bring awareness to the importance of the mental well-being of the athlete (NCAA Transformational Committee, 2023), it is important to understand student athletes’ attitudes toward these services. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to learn about NCAA DI athletes’ understanding of and attitudes toward mental performance services. Nine NCAA DI student-athletes (6 females, 3 males) participated in semi-structured interviews where information was gathered about their sport background, their understanding of mental performance services, and their attitudes toward these services. Using thematic analysis procedures (Braun & Clarke, 2019) three themes were constructed based on participants’ responses: (a) influences and experiences of participation in NCAA DI athletics, (b) knowledge of services and characteristics desired of professionals, and (c) a general unawareness of mental performance services. In response to these results and recent NCAA statements, it is suggested that the NCAA educate and disseminate more information about mental performance services and athletic departments consider allocating resources and hiring more MPCs either full-time, part-time, or on a contracted basis to meet student-athletes’ needs

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This paper was published in Aquila Digital Community.

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