Study shows D1 athletes outpace student peers in mental health | UW-Madison

This is a fascinating and compelling read. With the increasing emphasis on mental health among all segments of society and the growing scrutiny in this area among college students, and especially college athletes, the cited study seems to clearly indicate that NCAA D1 athletes have a clear advantage.

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 Wednesday 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.

“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,” says Snedden. “It makes you wonder, what’s going on with their mental health? How are they balancing all of this?”

In 2016, Snedden and her collaborators in the UW–Madison School of Medicine and Public Health recruited 842 athletes from UW–Madison’s NCAA Division I sports teams and 1,322 undergraduates who weren’t members of a Division I team. Each completed a standardized survey of the quality of their physical and mental health called the VR-12.

“Here you have a large group of people all on the same academic calendar, in the same degree programs, in the same wonderful climate, and we gave them the same measure at the same time of year,” says Snedden. “However, when we compared the non-Division-I undergrads to the Division I student-athletes, the athletes’ results reflected more positive overall mental health.”

Read the entire article at

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