Examining the Role Communication Plays in Negotiating Athletic Identity in Relation to Mental Health and Stigma


This study examines the intricate dynamics of athletic identity negotiation and mental health stigma among collegiate student-athletes. Through the exploration of three research questions, the study investigates how student-athletes navigate their athletic identity in relation to their team and mental health, negotiate the stigmas surrounding mental health, and propose actions to improve mental health literacy and treatment utilization. Drawing from the Communication Theory of Identity (CTI) and utilizing Stigma Management Communication Theory (SMC), Uncertainty Reduction Theory (URT), and Disclosure Decision-Making Model (DD-MM), the research examines the multifaceted aspects of identity and stigma. Findings reveal the influence of social dimensions on athletic identity formation, highlighting the role of shared experiences and societal expectations. While acknowledging the complexity of addressing mental health in collegiate athletics, the study underscores the importance of holistic approaches that prioritize athlete-centric interventions. By amplifying student-athletes' voices and integrating evidence-based strategies, institutions can foster a supportive environment conducive to mental well-being.