The Future of Mental Health in Sport: CBT and Athletes




Sport psychology, mental health, athletes, CBT, stigma


Collegiate and professional athletes are at higher risk of developing anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and substance abuse disorders. These competitive athletes often struggle with unique stressors such as balancing social life with sport and mental health stigma due to expectation of mental toughness. Research suggests these vulnerabilities amongst competitive athletes may make them hesitant to seek mental health resources. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach that promotes skill development that reduces symptoms of anxiety, depression, substance use and other mental health struggles. CBT strategies may also enhance athletic performance. Combined, CBT skills for athletes may have promise as a primary prevention strategy for mental health symptoms, a secondary prevention strategy by offering referral for more serious symptoms and may earn buy in from coaches and athletes due to the potential for enhancing athletic performance. This paper provides empirical and theoretical rationale and framework for such an approach.


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