Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Jacob J. Levy

Committee Members

Leslee A. Fisher, P. Gary Klukken, John W. Lounsbury


Student-athletes are thought to be at greater risk for some psychopathologies while underutilizing mental health services. Few studies have explored depression in student-athletes or the reasons behind the resistance to seeking psychological help. The goals of this study were to examine in a nationwide sample of NCAA D-IA and D-IAA student-athletes the (a) manifestation of depressed mood as it relates to gender, injury, injury characteristics (i.e., perceived impact, time in treatment, chronicity), and student-athlete role behaviors (e.g., frequency of skipping events, role strain, self-destructive behaviors) and (b) examine their treatment resistance, perceived barriers to seeking help, and counselor preference should they choose to seek psychological help. Using a web-survey format, student-athletes were presented survey materials and the Personality Assessment Inventory (Morey, 1991) Depression and Treatment Rejection scales. Results indicated student-athletes reported moderately low depression scores. Depression was not impacted by gender or the occurrence of injury; however, for those who were injured, only the perceived impact of their injury accounted for variance in depression scores. Strong relationships between role behaviors and depression indicated possible outward expressions of depression. Additionally, student-athletes reported moderately high treatment rejection scores indicating little desire or perceived need to change and little motivation for entering into counseling. Access to services, privacy issues, stigmatization, and the fear of not being understood acted as barriers to seeking help. Lastly, student-athletes indicated clear preferences for counselor type and practitioner’s location, familiarity with sport, gender, racial similarity, and age. Results highlighted a need for education, awareness, promotion of mental health services, and increased accessibility to services for student-athletes. Recommendations were put forth for university counseling centers as well as athletic department staff members.

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