Date of Award
Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management
Background. NCAA Division I female student-athletes are underrepresented in mental health research; existing research among female athletes tends to focus only on disordered eating and body appearance. This study aims to 1) describe the prevalence of mental health issues (i.e., anxiety, depression, and stress) among female Division I college athletes, and 2) assess the association between mental health issues and the student-athlete experience (i.e., athletic and academic performance).
Methods. This was a quantitative, cross-sectional study that used a self-administered online survey. The participants were NCAA Division I female student-athletes, mainly from the University of Mississippi. Demographics and sample characteristics were assessed. The GAD-7, PHQ-9, and PSS-10 were used to assess levels of anxiety, depression, and stress, respectively. Academic performance was measured using cumulative GPA, and athletic performance was measured using a 1-100% self-determined scale of whether athletes were performing to their full athletic potential. Six linear regression models were run to assess the associations between mental health issues and the student athlete experience.
Results. A final sample of n=55 female NCAA Division I student-athletes (73% white) was analyzed, with a mean age of 20.6 years old. The sample had mean scores of 7.29, 7.42, and 21.8 on the GAD-7, PHQ-9, and PSS-10, respectively. The mean GPA for participants was 3.62. Participants felt they were performing at about 72% of their full athletic potential, on average. No significant associations were found between mental health (i.e., anxiety, depression, and stress) and both GPA and athletic performance.
Conclusion. Current research suggests that females experience more symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress when compared to their male peers, and results from this study support this conclusion. Analyses showed no relationship between mental health issues and athletic and academic performance, but several limitations to the study may have influenced this result. Further research is suggested in larger, more diverse samples.
Goebel, Mary, "Mental Health Among D1 Female College Athletes: Prevalance and Links to Athletic and Academic Performance" (2023). Honors Theses. 2889.