My research will use qualitative methods to explore the experiences of male professional athletes (in team-sports), who have suffered with depression and low mood during their careers. This area is presently under-theorised and incompletely understood. The significance of professional athletes’ mental health problems has led the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to devise a ‘Mental Health and Elite Sport Action Plan’ (DCMS, 2018). This government policy recognises the prevalence of mental health issues among professional athletes, and highlights the need for impactful research to better understand the mental health experiences of professional athletes, and the views and reflections of mental health professionals who support them.
My study will use in-depth qualitative interviews, visual methods and vignettes with professional athletes and mental health practitioners involved in professional sport, to advance understandings of the experiences of male athletes who have suffered with depression and low mood during their careers. This will include an exploration of their coping strategies, support networks, and facilitators and barriers to timely help-seeking behaviour. The research will contribute to a growing body of scholarship that has examined the interaction of professional sport, mental health and well-being. Findings will provide evidence regarding optimal strategies for supporting male professional athletes, and contribute to wider academic debate surrounding depression and mental health in professional sport.