Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

School or Department

Forestry and Conservation


Environmental Science and Sustainability

Faculty Mentor Department

Athletic Training

Faculty Mentor

Charles Palmer


student-athlete, mental health, athletic department, pressure, depression, anxiety

Subject Categories

Counseling Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Health Psychology | Psychology | Social Justice | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sports Studies


Research suggests that Division I college-student athletes experience higher levels of stress and other behavioral health issues than their non-athlete counterparts, with up to 20% of them suffering from depression (Sudano et al., 2017). Two studies on student athletes’ well-being conducted in 2020, reported that athletes continue to report higher levels of mental health concerns (Johnson, 2022). Since the fall of 2020, rates of mental exhaustion, depression, and anxiety have improved minimally with rates remaining 1.5 to two times higher than reported before the COVID-19 pandemic (Johnson, 2022). Naomi Osaka withdrawing from the French Open in 2021 and Simone Biles withdrawing from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to prioritize their mental health brought attention, and even some backlash towards the idea that athletics may need to withdraw from competitions to prioritize their mental health. Stanford soccer player Katie Myer taking her own life by suicide in her dorm room started a national social media campaign in the United States, advocating for mental health concerns to be addressed for collegiate athletes in 2022. The need for mental health issues to be addressed has been expressed, yet college athletes are not seeking help. When asked if they would feel comfortable seeking health from a mental health expert on their respective college campus, less than half of women’s and men’s National College Athletic Association (NCAA) sports participants answered they would agree or strongly agree with that statement (Johnson, 2022). The University of Montana athletic department is not immune from this phenomenon; student-athletes at the University of Montana have expressed that they too suffer from mental health issues. Yet, Grizzly Athletics offers free counseling sessions to student-athletes, while these slots regularly remain unfilled. “There is a growing awareness of the importance of mental health care in NCAA student-athletes; however, there is a lack of literature on mental health resources in collegiate settings” (Sudano et al., 2017). The University of Montana can act as a case study for college athletic institutions similar in size. The purpose of this research is to better understand if collegiate athletes struggle with mental health, if so why, what resources would meet their needs, and how to make them helpful and accessible. The goal of the case study investigation is to unveil the reason why mental health resources go unused and find possible solutions.

Honors College Research Project


GLI Capstone Project




© Copyright 2024 Abigail M. Sherwood