An athlete's shadow faces grass with a pair of red sneakers on the side

The State of Mental Health in Sport

Why this matters

A new study reveals that 1 in 5 athletes reported difficulty exercising related to mental health. Yet, exercise is said to be beneficial to reducing depression and anxiety.

This event took place on 11/19/2020. For an article recap and access to the full episode,  visit here. To stay up to date on upcoming events, sign up for our newsletter.

As the world has now reached the eleventh lap of 2020, Global Sport Matters Live examines the intersection of mental health and sport. Specifically, exploring two areas that impact mental health - emotional and physical.

A new study from Stanford University and Strava on athlete mental health found that 22.5% of those surveyed felt down or depressed, up from 3.9% the same time last year. Further, 1 in 5 professional athletes in the study reported difficulty exercising related to mental health. 

Although the increase is not entirely surprising, what may be is that the study also revealed evidence of perseverance and resilience among athletes who adapted and adjusted during this time. 

This year, there has also been an increase in physical injuries as teams have had to alter offseason training. Although common for athletes, chronic pain can impact sleep, eating habits, as well as mood, which contributes to mental health. As the US elections have loosened marijuana restrictions in five more states, will we see a disruption in pain management prescribed for athletes moving forward?

On the next GSM Live we bring experts from the National Football League Players Association to ultramarathon runners to examine the state of mental health among athletes and how to cope with an uncertain future.

Event details:

Rebecca Mehra | Professional Track Runner and Campaign Manager
Rebecca Mehra is a professional middle distance runner with Littlewing Athletics, an all-women's team based in Bend, OR, and sponsored by Oiselle. She is also a public policy professional, having served as a special assistant to the Mayor of Bend, and most recently a Campaign Manager for a local candidate running for office. She received her undergraduate and Master's degrees from Stanford University, in international relations and communications respectively.

She will be competing at the Olympic Trials in 2021 for a chance to make the US Olympic Team.

Dr. Megan Roche | Ultramarathon Runner, Co-author of "The Happy Runner" and Lead Study Researcher of Impacts of COVID-19 on Professional Athletes
Megan is a five-time national trail running champion, a North American mountain running champion, and a six-time member of Team USA. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in Neuroscience and received her M.D. from Stanford Medical School. Megan is currently working on a PhD in Epidemiology at Stanford with a research focus on sports medicine and physical activity. She coaches runners of all abilities with Some Work All Play (SWAP).

Dr. Ian Pickup | Pro Vice Chancellor (Education & Experience) and COO at University of East London
Ian Pickup is Pro Vice Chancellor (Education & Experience) and Chief Operating Officer, with responsibility for the leadership, development and effective delivery of the student experience. Prior to joining UEL in April 2019, Ian was Deputy COO (Student and Academic Experience) at SOAS University of London and previous roles include Head of the Student Experience at University College Cork, Ireland, and Director of Student Affairs at the University of Roehampton.

Amber Cargill, Psy. D. | Director of Wellness at the National Football League Players Association

Image credit: Getty Images, 539398996