Promotion of mental health referral efficacy in college athletic trainers

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Martha Grace Dettl-Rivera (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Diane Gill

Abstract: College student-athletes are an at-risk population for negative mental health. Numerous factors are associated with an increased susceptibility to mental health issues, including academics and athletics (Breslin, Shannon, Haughey, Donnelly, & Leavey, 2017; Neal, 2012; Rice et al., 2016; Yang et al., 2007). To address the numerous mental health issues experienced by college student-athletes, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), with the help of field experts in mental health and student wellness, developed a mental health guide to implement within athletics departments (National Collegiate Athletic Association, 2016). The document, Inter-Association Consensus Document: Best Practices for Understanding and Supporting Student-Athlete Mental Wellness, promotes training for those athletics department personnel who have direct interaction with college student-athletes. Among these, athletic trainers play a pivotal role in preventing injuries, overseeing rehabilitations, and promoting the overall well-being of college student-athletes, including both physical and mental health well-beings. Athletic trainers are in an ideal position to recognize and to refer student-athletes to advanced care for mental health issues, but lack the formal training to confidently perform these skills (Cormier & Zizzi, 2015; Kamphoff et al., 2010; Vaughan, King, & Cottrell, 2004). Additionally, there is limited research available studying athletic trainers’ confidence during the referral process, both non-crisis and crisis situations. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the referral knowledge and self-efficacy of college athletic trainers before and after completing the USA Mental Health First Aid (MHFA-USA) course, which has improved confidence levels in other populations (Massey, Brooks, & Burrow, 2014; Moffitt, Bostock, & Cave, 2014; O’Reilly, Bell, Kelly, & Chen, 2011). College athletic trainers (n = 8) participated in the MHFA-USA course and completed pre-, post- and one-month follow-up surveys as well as focus group interviews assessing mental health referral knowledge and self-efficacy levels. Results showed significant efficacy improvements from pre- to post-course, and participants maintained those improved confidence levels at one-month follow-up. Furthermore, the athletic trainers consistently stated the course was helpful and useful in intervening during mental health situations. Additional research with larger samples may provide greater insight of athletic trainers’ confidence levels with referrals of college student-athletes for mental health issues with the help of the MHFA-USA course.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Athletic Trainers, First Aid, Mental health, Self-Efficacy
College athletes $x Mental health
Psychiatric referral
Athletic trainers

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