Exploring the Experiences of High Performance Canadian Athletes With Mood and/or Anxiety Disorders
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Until recently, it was assumed that mental illnesses were not problems for high performance athletes (e.g., Dean & Rowan, 2013; Reardon & Factor, 2010). As athletes publicly share their struggles with mental illness, this assumption has been brought into question. The purpose of this research was to explore the experiences of Canadian high performance athletes with mood/anxiety disorders. Athletes were recruited via purposeful sampling and currently or recently competed for places on Canadian national sports teams. Participants described dealing with stigma, and ultimately, required a break from sport in order to effectively manage their illness. A need for education regarding mood/anxiety disorders and greater access to psychologists were expressed. Findings are discussed within the context of existing research on high performance sport and mental illness. Suggestions include the development of programs to decrease stigma, coupled with increases in funding for resources in the sport community and changes to sport policy.