Developing athletes in Quebec: A first empirical look at the prevalence of mental health disorders symptoms


Mental health has been identified as a research priority by multiple organizations (e.g., American Medical Society for Sports Medicine). This directed research to explore the prevalence of mental illness mainly with an elite population of athletes (e.g., Olympians/Paralympians). The mental health of developing athletes (identified as next generation) remains understudied, although they face unique stressors including the lack of funding and access to sport specialized mental health care. While sporting organization and sport practitioners in the province of Quebec noticed important needs and gaps, there is no empirical data to support these observations. The purpose of this study was to identify the prevalence of symptoms of mental illness in developing athletes and the perceived barriers to help-seeking resources. 320 developing athletes (114 male and 205 female) completed an online survey in spring 2022. Using descriptive analysis, preliminary findings revealed that 8.8% of the respondent delt with eating disorders, 21,3 % experienced symptoms of depression, and 20% symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety. Female athletes reported a higher prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms compared to male athletes. Furthermore, 43.2% of athletes reported that stigma acted as a barrier to help seeking mental health services. This study presents the first empirical data regarding developing athletes in Quebec and demonstrates the strong presence of stigma for health-seeking resources for this population. This highlights avenues for researchers and practitioners to enhance the accessibility of these resources to influence positively the development and well-being of developing athletes across the province of Quebec.