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Title: An exploration of the interaction between mental toughness, help-seeking self-stigma, and attitude towards seeking professional psychological help, in the population of recreational athletes
Other Titles: Mental toughness, self-stigma and help-seeking attitude
Authors: Ioannou, Dionysia
Keywords: Mental toughness
Attitude towards seeking psychological help
Distance running
Issue Date: Oct-2022
Abstract: Background: The psychological well-being of athletes and their unique personality traits have attracted a significant amount of research, the vast majority of which has been conducted with professional or college athletes. Past research has focused on exploring and understanding the mechanisms through which the mental toughness personality trait enhances performance in sports. Limited quantitative research exists investigating mental toughness among recreational distance runners. The aim of the current study was twofold: first, to examine whether mental toughness differs in distance runners compared to non-distance runners and non-runners; second, to investigate the association between mental toughness and professional psychological support seeking attitude, in a sample of recreational runners. Methods: The data collection is from an empirical study conducted in Greece, during July-August 2022, and is complete. The present study was conducted in a sample of 314 adult recreational athletes, with 84% having an active running status at a non-professional level. 64% of participants were males and 36% were females, and 186 respondents run at least 3 times per week for a distance of at least 5km each time. Participants answered to socio-demographic questions and completed self-report questionnaires, consisting of the Mental Toughness Questionnaire (MTQ10; Dagnall et al., 2019), Self-Stigma Of Seeking Help scale (SSOSH; Vogel, Wade, & Haake, 2006), and the Attitude Towards Seeking Professional Psychological Help – Short Form scale (ATSPPS-SF; Vogel et al., 2005). Results: Findings indicated that distance runners have higher levels of mental toughness in comparison to less committed runners as well as those who do not engage with running recreationally. In addition, there was no interaction effect of mental toughness and help-seeking self-stigma on help-seeking attitude, meaning that these individuals have the capacity to exert to professional help, if they are in need, without compromising their mental health. However, a strong effect of help-seeking stigma on help-seeking attitude was identified in the recreational athletes. Implications: This study contributes to the research body of positive psychology and sport psychology, by highlighting the mental aspect of running as recreational physical activity. Mental toughness is depicted as a positive personality trait, most profoundly found amongst recreational distance runners. Mental health professionals can resort to our findings, as complimentary resource for designing interventions and action plans, with the goal to improve their clients’ quality of life and wellbeing. Mental help seeking self-stigmatization may prevent recreational athletes from seeking professional psychological support, in fear of being perceived weak. This knowledge can provide useful insight for mental health professionals, to better understand resistance in therapy amongst their recreational athlete clients.
Appears in Collections:Program in Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy

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