Award Date

May 2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Committee Member

Daniel N. Allen

Second Committee Member

Bradley Donohue

Third Committee Member

Kimberly A. Barchard

Fourth Committee Member

Jennifer Keene

Number of Pages

74

Abstract

Athletes at the collegiate level frequently experience unique stressors that cause them to be at risk for a number of mental health difficulties, including depression, anxiety, and substance use. Current research in the field suggests that athletes are not as likely as their non-athlete peers to seek out psychological services for mental health difficulties. Social supports have been shown to impact athletes’ mental health and sport performance. Specifically, family relationships appear to have an influence on athletes’ level of stress and motivation, with positive family relationships showing decreases in athletes’ worry as well as faster recovery following injury. Surprisingly, there is little research on the influence that family relationships have on athletes’ mental health, depression, anxiety, and substance use. Therefore, the current study examines the extent to which collegiate athletes’ ratings of their family relationships predict their ratings of mental health, depression, anxiety, and substance use. Self-reported depression, anxiety, and general mental health symptoms (from the SCL-90-R), drug and alcohol use (from the Timeline Followback), and reports of family relationships (from the Student Athlete Relationship Instrument, SARI) were collected from 85 student athletes at a southwestern university (intramural, n = 26; club sport, n = 12; NCAA Division I, n = 47). It was hypothesized that athletes’ reports of greater mental health and substance use difficulties would be predicted by reports of more negative family relationships. Results indicated that all domains of negative family relationships (Poor Relationship and Lack of Support, General Pressure, Pressure to Quit or Continue Unsafely, and Embarrassing Comments and Negative Attitude) predicted athletes’ ratings of depression and general mental health concerns. Negative family relationships involving general pressure predicted athletes’ reported anxiety and drug use. Alcohol use was not predicted by any of the family relationship domains, but general pressure did contribute a significant, albeit small, increase in the variance explained. ROC analyses indicated that the SARI provided good classification of athletes at risk for overall mental health concerns as well as depression and anxiety. The current results help to further understanding regarding the relationship between negative family relationships, specifically those that involve general pressure, and mental health outcomes in athletes.

Keywords

anxiety; athletes; depression; family relationships; mental health; screening

Disciplines

Psychology | Sports Management | Sports Studies

Language

English


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