Study: Division I college athletes outpace student peers in mental health

December 27, 2018 By Chris Barncard | UW News

Traci Snedden, PHD, RN, CPNP, CNE

“There’s so much happening with these student-athletes amidst their athletic involvement, travel, performance pressure, academic responsibilities, and some of them reaching to go pro. It makes you wonder, what’s going on with their mental health? How are they balancing all of this?” —Traci Snedden, PHD, RN, CPNP, CNE

Competing at the highest level in college sports while managing a full class schedule and generally navigating a new life as an adult would seem fraught with an unusual amount of stress and anxiety.

That may be the case, but a new study of students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison finds the university’s Division I athletes in enviable psychological shape — reporting a level of mental well-being far above their non-athlete classmates.

That’s a bit of a surprise to Traci Snedden, the UW–Madison professor of nursing who led the study, which was published by the American Journal of Health Promotion. Previous research examining smaller groups of international, elite or college athletes had offered mixed results on athlete mental health.

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