Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor) Feb 12 2020
The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) has released a position statement regarding "Mental Health Issues and Psychological Factors in Athletes: Detection, Management, Effect on Performance, and Prevention."
This statement discusses how members of the sports medicine team, including team physicians, athletic trainers and mental health (MH) providers work together in providing comprehensive psychological care to athletes. It specifically addresses psychological factors in athletes including personality issues and the psychological response to injury and illness. The statement also examines the athletic culture and environmental factors that commonly impact MH, including sexuality and gender issues, hazing, bullying, sexual misconduct and transition from sport. Specific MH disorders in athletes, such as eating disorders/disordered eating, depression and suicide, anxiety and stress, overtraining, sleep disorders and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder are reviewed with a focus on detection, management, the effect on performance and prevention.
The position statement can be viewed by visiting the British Journal of Sports Medicine website. It is being concurrently published on the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine website.
We believe this AMSSM position statement is novel in several respects. In addressing specific mental health disorders in athletes, our focus is not just on detection and management, but also any effect on performance and recommendations for prevention. It contains important topics such as psychological factors in athletes, including key personality issues, and the psychological response to injury and illness, including medication misuse. Lastly, it also discusses in depth the athletic culture and environmental factors that commonly impact mental health, including sexuality and gender issues, hazing, bullying, sexual misconduct and transition from sport.
All these factors are contributory to the mental health of our athletes for whom we care, and it is vital that sports medicine providers understand the positive and negative impact of these variables on our athletes and how to monitor the athletic culture and environment that may precipitate or exacerbate their mental health issues." Cindy Chang, MD, FAMSSM, co-lead author and AMSSM Past President
Athlete mental health is receiving increased attention in the sports medicine community. Although participation in athletics has many benefits, the very nature of competition can provoke, augment or expose psychological issues in athletes. Certain personality traits can aid in athletic success, yet these same traits can also be associated with mental health disorders. Importantly, the athletic culture may have an impact on performance and psychological health through its effect on existing personality traits and MH disorders. Consensus or position statements have been published by a number of organizations with each society bringing its own focus and perspective.
Sports medicine physicians are trained through their primary disciplines and sports medicine fellowships to provide comprehensive medical care to athletes, including the management of MH disorders. The team physician is often the coordinator of the athlete's overall health care and may oversee MH screening and treatment, the prescribing of psychiatric medication, and consultation with members of the MH care network. AMSSM convened a panel of experts to provide an evidence-based, best practice document to assist sports medicine physicians and other members of the athletic care network with the detection, treatment and prevention of MH issues in competitive athletes. Related Stories
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