The athletic elite on the world stage today
The standouts in global sports of athletes at the highest levels of sport is typically attributed to physical prowess and technical skill, along with a strong mental attitude. However, many lifestyle, support and social factors may contribute to success at the elite level but are often not addressed in athlete development programs. This study sought to explore the prevalence, utilisation and perceived impact of key lifestyle, relational and support practices amongst elite sportspeople across 25 Olympic sports. An online survey was used to collect data from 135 Olympic, Paralympic, National and State level athletes from across Australia.
Findings from previous research have indicated that a wide range of mental health difficulties are experienced by elite athletes, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and sleep disorders. In addition, evidence suggests that a large proportion of athletes have symptoms that raise their risk of potentially life-threatening cardiovascular events, such as arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.
Unrivaled Excellence: Spotlight on the Athletes Dominating the World Stage
Athletes may be at particular risk of these complications as a result of the highly competitive, physically demanding nature of their sport, the need to achieve high performance standards and the frequent exposure to adverse environmental factors. It is therefore important that the broader elite sport ecology is recognised as both a contributor to mental health difficulties and a facilitator of their remediation. This approach has the potential to increase the efficacy of help-seeking approaches by facilitating a non-stigmatised environment in which the presence of psychological distress symptoms is normalised and can be easily reported.