Sport and Mental Health

Sport and Mental Health         
Prepared by  Prepared by: Dr Ralph Richards, and Christine May, Senior Research Consultants, Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission)
evaluated by  Evaluation by: Gayelene Clews, Performance Psychologist, Wired to Play Consulting (November 2017)
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated: 12 April 2019
Please refer to the Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer page for
more information concerning this content.

Community Sport Coaching
Thinkstock, 1144226606


Mental health is characterised by emotional wellbeing and resilience to stress. Mentally healthy individuals are able to cope with daily stresses and fully participate in family, work, sport, leisure, and community activities. A mental disorder is a diagnosable illness that affects a person’s thinking, emotional state, and behaviour, and disrupts his/her ability to carry out normal daily activities or engage in satisfying personal relationships.

Understanding the causes of mental/emotional stress, learning coping skills, and developing emotional and social support networks can help any individual build resilience and deal with stressful situations. Athletes are regularly challenged by stressful events related to their sport participation, and these may occur on top of daily life stresses. One’s ability to ‘bounce back’ to a normal state of functioning, following exposure to stress, is a predictor of good mental health. 

Key Messages 


Physical activity stimulates a biochemical response in the brain that influences one’s mental state. Regular physical activity, in appropriate amounts, contributes to personal wellbeing.


Sport, recreation, and physical activity can promote and encourage social interaction, which supports good mental health.


Athletes are subjected to sport specific stressors, as well as stress from everyday life. Good mental health is characterised by emotional wellbeing and resilience to all sources of stress.


An athlete's state of mind has a significant impact on their athletic performance and vice versa.


Diagnosis and care of an athlete’s mental health concerns must be considered within the context of sport and life.

Clearinghouse members

Please login to unlock this topic

Please contact us if you are experiencing any difficulty accessing the Clearinghouse information resources that you require.
If you are not a member of the Clearinghouse for Sport please join now

Related Topics


Is this information complete? 

The Clearinghouse for Sport is a sector-wide knowledge sharing initiative, and as such your contributions are encouraged and appreciated. If you would like to suggest a resource, submit a publication, or provide feedback on this topic, please contact us.
Alternatively, if you would like to be kept up to date with research and information published about this topic, please request a research profile setup.