Coaching Volleyball Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 16

HARVARD student-athlete does not increase risk of experiencing sexual violence, student-athletes who experience sexual violence or other forms of interpersonal violence in any settings bring these experiences and the resultant mental health consequences back with them to the sport environment. Consequently, individuals in the sport environment need to be aware of the resources available to student-athletes so that they can manage the mental health consequences that often result from experiencing these forms of violence. Individuals in the sport environment can also play an important role in encouraging victims of violence to report their experience and in supporting them emotionally in this process. Sexual minority students – both male and female, athlete and non-athlete – experienced significantly higher rates of sexual assault within the past 12 months than those who did not identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Individuals who self-reported experiences of sexual assault were significantly more likely to struggle academically, find it hard to handle intimate relationships, and experience hopelessness, mental exhaustion, sleep issues, depression and suicidal thoughts. Interpersonal violence, including hazing and bullying, may be elevated in certain sport environments. While being a VOLLEYBALL TUTOR Make your team perform like a machine! Prices start under $1,000 Silver Model • High release point • Topspin/underspin • Practice digs Gold Model • Automatic ball feed • AC & Battery models SPORTS TUTOR 1-800-448-8867 for FREE brochure The Sports Machine Company Sports Tutor, 3300 Winona Ave., Burbank, CA 91504 14 | Fall Issue 2016 | COACHING VOLLEYBALL **** The sport environment matters for both risk and prevention of mental health disorders. Unique stressors often accompany the experience of being a student-athlete. Resources in the sport environment can potentially mitigate stressors and encourage helpseeking for individuals who are experiencing mental health disorders or who are at risk of these disorders. Student-athletes benefit from being part of the sport family – with teammates and coaches who see them on a daily basis. Whereas many students transitioning to college run the risk of being isolated and not finding a supportive community, college student-athletes often have a built-in community from the moment they step foot on campus. Student-athletes are often used to working with a team of multidisciplinary health care professionals to facilitate optimal health and sport performance. Coaches, athletic trainers and teammates can reinforce to symptomatic individuals that mental health professionals are just one more piece of this equation. Student-athletes are also used to ad hering to routines and dealing with aversive conditions rehabilitating injuries – and receiving support from teammates and coaches during this process. The process of recovery from mental health disorders can in some cases be similarly onerous – and social support matters a great deal here, too. Drawing on the experience of recovering from other health- and performance-impacting injuries in the sport environment can help more positively frame mental health-related treatment-seeking and adherence for the symptomatic individual. While the sport environment presents numerous risk factors for student-athlete mental health, it can also play an important role in prevention and wellness. Reducing unnecessary sources of stress and stigma in the sport environment, increasing access to resources to help mitigate stress, and encouraging help-seeking for mental health disorders are all critical ways in which the sport environment can function to improve mental well-being among student-athletes. Emily Kroshus is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and the NCAA Sport Science Institute. She received her doctoral degree from Harvard School of Public Health in the department of social and behavioral sciences, with a concentration in health communication. As an undergraduate at Princeton, Kroshus was a three-time NCAA Division I All-American in cross country and track and field.