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Submission Date


Document Type

Entry Level Capstone

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)

First Mentor

Mariana D'Amico, EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Second Mentor

Rhett Brooks


The stigma surrounding mental health in sports has made intervention difficult. “There is a need for various actors to provide more effective strategies to overcome the stigma that surrounds mental illness, increase mental health literacy in the athlete/coach community, and address athlete-specific barriers to seeking treatment for mental illness” (Castadelli-Maia 2019). The athletes in the football program at the University of Tennessee face more pressure today than ever in history. They have their class schedule, practice and training every day, and meetings with their position coaches. Now, with the introduction of name, image, and likeness (NIL) allowing players to profit off their name, companies are paying players, and they expect them to perform at a level to justify their investment. This capstone experience wanted to lay the foundation for high level athlete mental health and to advocate for a licensed occupational therapist to be added to a training staff. While the literature on mental health intervention in high level athletes is very scarce because of how new it is, this survey showed that more attention towards this topic is needed. Moving forward, mental health intervention in high level athletes needs more funding for longitudinal studies and improved access to mental health screenings. This will be the start to breaking the stigma surrounding mental health in sports and allowing athletes to trust that they have the necessary tools to address their mental health concerns during their time at the university and when they move to the next chapter in their career.