Elitens osynliga mående : En kvalitativ studie om psykisk ohälsa inom elitidrott

Detta är en Kandidat-uppsats från Malmö universitet/Fakulteten för hälsa och samhälle (HS)

Sammanfattning: The purpose of this study is to examine how mental illness in elite sports is experienced and perceived in order to gain a deeper understanding of how an elite sport can affect a person's mental health and well-being and to furthermore examine the challenges that elite athletes encounter that can affect their mental health. The study uses a qualitative method using content analysis of three different autobiographies written by elite athletes. The autobiographies are stories based on experiences of mental illness within their elite sports. Through content analysis of these autobiographies, three different perspectives on mental illness in elite sports are given and with that a deeper understanding of how mental illness can be experienced and perceived based on their different life stories. Lately, people have started to talk more about mental illness in elite sport. By using the autobiographies of the elite athletes, the subject is highlighted and can be given more attention, new knowledge can grow and an understanding of what it is like to be an elite athlete can contribute to tools that can prevent mental illness. The following questions were set as guidelines for the thesis: How is mental illness experienced and perceived in elite sports? What are the challenges with mental health in elite sports and what can this be due to? We used three different theories: Howard Becker's theory about stamping, Erving Goffman's theory about stigma and Erving Goffman's theory of roles. The results show that the elite athletes from the autobiographies experience that their mental illness has been a problem in relation to their performance. It also showed that their focus on performance has been a problem, but also an incentive in terms of realizing, talking about and understanding their own mental illness. There are some differences in the elite athletes' experiences of mental illness. Their picture of mental illness within their sport varies and mental illness can be experienced in different ways and so they can too be affected in different ways. The data material provided by the autobiographies has been interpreted with the help of previous research and analysis of the elite athletes' life stories. It has been done by linking experiences about the phenomenon with theories that can help to gain a deeper understanding of mental illness in elite sports. We have come to the conclusion that elite athletes face a lot of challenges, not the least with mental health. Based on the autobiographies, it appears that stigmatization around mental illness is a major challenge for elite athletes who make it difficult for them to talk openly about their mental illness. The sports culture and the climate that an elite athlete is in can also be contributing factors to the challenges that elite athletes face during their careers in relation to mental illness. This is because the elite athletes are expected to adapt to the standards that exist to fit in and have a chance to become the best. There is a risk that the elite athletes are not themselves when they adapt, which can lead to an imbalance between who they are and who they are expected to be. This can further lead to mental illness for an elite athlete. In order for elite athletes to open up, an atmosphere is required so it is accepted and allows them to open up, so the stigmatization surrounding mental illness needs to change. Stigmatization around mental illness is possible to change, as stigma is changeable, according to Goffman (Goffman E, 2020).

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