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Title: Constructions of athlete mental health post-retirement: a discursive analysis of stigmatising and legitimising versions of transition distress in the Australian broadcast media
Contributor(s): Cosh, Suzanne M  (author)orcid ; Crabb, Shona (author); McNeil, Dominic G  (author); Tully, Phillip J  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2022
Early Online Version: 2022-08-12
DOI: 10.1080/2159676X.2022.2086165
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Athletes are vulnerable to experiencing mental health disorders, yet, disclosure and help-seeking around mental health remains low, with stigma the most widely reported barrier. However, the ways in which stigma around mental health may be produced (or resisted) in dominant constructions of athlete mental health remain under examined. This study explores constructions of athlete mental health into retirement in an example of Australian broadcast media, with consideration of the ways in which these representations might function to reproduce and perpetuate (or not) stigmatising versions of athlete mental health. Data from a two-part special of a current affairs programme focusing on transition difficulties and poor mental health of nine retired athletes were analysed using Discursive Psychology. Analysis focused on identifying the constructions of mental health and recovery produced in this broadcast, with consideration as to how these depictions might function to perpetuate and/or resist stigma. Mental health was constructed in two key ways - biomedical and life-stress - which externalised mental health. Recovery was, conversely, located as solely the individual's responsibility and was depicted as achieved through self-awareness and engaging in new pursuits. Thus, individual experiences of mental health disorders were partially legitimised through externalising blame and presenting a plurality of depictions, yet did not redress stigma around transition distress more broadly by overlooking contextual factors. Depictions trivialised recovery, potentially functioning to stigmatise long-term or chronic mental health experiences as well as help-seeking. These results inform ways in which stigma around athlete mental health may be challenged, and implications for practice are discussed.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 14(7), p. 1045-1069
Publisher: Routledge
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 2159-6778
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 520302 Clinical psychology
520107 Sport and exercise psychology
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 200409 Mental health
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Psychology

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