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Sharpen Resilient Athlete Data and Key Themes Revealed

Below are recent findings relevant to college athlete mental health:

Prior to deploying Sharpen's Resilient Athlete program at a Division II university, we sat down with athletes (and coaching staff) to conduct individual, forty-five-minute semi-structured interviews on film.

Athletes revealed three key themes centered on mental health risk factors: 1) perceived pressure, 2) loneliness, and 3) stigma. An additional five themes centered on protective factors against mental disorders: 1) vulnerability with teammates, 2) establishment of a holistic identity, 3) campus involvement, 4) spiritual coping, and 5) development of a positive mindset. These themes emphasize the need for university athletic staff to provide education and coping strategies for student-athletes to reduce mental health stigma and increase help-seeking.

In another study we successfully screened 367 Division II university student-athletes for mental and behavioral health risk using the Head’s Up Checkup screening tool via the Sharpen mobile platform. Immediately after the student received the results of the screening, they received Sharpen’s protective, peer-focused digital CBT content. In addition, licensed psychotherapists were available at the time of the screening and through the Sharpen app to provide ongoing support.

Participants self-reported mental and behavioral health symptoms, including risk and criteria for 26 ICD-10 disorders. Across the sample, the most common diagnosis in which 100% of criteria were met included post-traumatic stress disorder, (n = 25), social phobia (n = 17), and post-concussional syndrome (n = 13). Based on the results of the screenings, the athletes received Sharpen’s weekly, digital CBT interventions connecting them back into the full Sharpen library of over 200 psychoeducational modules.

Biber, D. D. (2023). University student-athlete perceptions of mental health and coping. Performance Enhancement & Health (in review, April, 2023).

Biber, D. D. Davis, A., & Stewart, B (revised and resubmitted). Heads Up! Using a Mobile Platform to Assess Division II Student-Athlete Mental Health. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action (March, 2023).

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