The mental health of elite athletes in the United Kingdom
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of signs of anxiety/depression and distress among a sample of elite athletes in the United Kingdom (UK). A secondary aim was to identify the variables associated with signs of anxiety/depression and distress in the same sample. Design: A cross-sectional survey was distributed to a sample of elite athletes in the UK. Methods: A total of 143 elite athletes completed an online survey that consisted of demographic questions, the Greenhaus Scale assessing career satisfaction, the 12-Item General Health Questionnaire assessing signs of anxiety/depression and a distress screener based on the Four-Dimensional Symptom Questionnaire. Results: 47.8% of the overall sample met the cut-off for signs of anxiety/depression and 26.8% met the cut-off for signs of distress. A significant association was found between gender and signs of distress (x2 = 8.64, df = 1, p = 0.003). Career dissatisfaction was a significant independent predictor of signs of anxiety/depression (OR = 0.836, p = 0.001) and distress (OR = 0.849, p = 0.003). Conclusions: The percentage of a sample of elite athletes in the UK showing signs of anxiety/depression and distress indicate that further cross-sectional research is required to understand the prevalence of mental issues in the elite athlete population in the UK. Findings indicate that screening elite athletes for career dissatisfaction may support the early detection of signs of anxiety/depression and/or distress. Emphasis should be placed on understanding and improving the mental health of elite athletes in the UK.