Mental health symptoms and disorders are common among elite athletes, may have sport related manifestations within this population and impair performance. Mental health cannot be separated from physical health, as evidenced by mental health symptoms and disorders increasing the risk of physical injury and delaying subsequent recovery. There are no evidence or consensus based guidelines for diagnosis and management of mental health symptoms and disorders in elite athletes. Diagnosis must differentiate character traits particular to elite athletes from psychosocial maladaptations.
Management strategies should address all contributors to mental health symptoms and consider biopsychosocial factors relevant to athletes to maximise benefit and minimise harm. Management must involve both treatment of affected individual athletes and optimising environments in which all elite athletes train and compete. To advance a more standardised, evidence based approach to mental health symptoms and disorders in elite athletes, an International Olympic Committee Consensus Work Group critically evaluated the current state of science and provided recommendations.
- elite performance
- consensus statement
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Contributors All authors meet criteria for authorship, as all have contributed in the following ways: substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work, or the acquisition, analysis or interpretation of the data; drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; final approval of the version published; and agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. No one meeting the criteria for authorship has been excluded from authorship.
Disclaimer This consensus paper provides an overview of mental health symptoms and disorders in elite athletes that are important to physicians and other clinicians who treat elite athletes. It is not intended as a clinical practice guideline or legal standard of care and should not be interpreted as such. This consensus paper serves as a guide and, as such, is of a general nature, consistent with the reasonable practice of the healthcare professional. Individual treatment will depend on the facts and circumstances specific to each individual case.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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