Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Barragan, Armando


The focus for this research study is to understand the development of mental health symptoms that result from sports engagement. Participating in sports for several years within different developmental stages of human life can increase the probability of identity conflict and mental distress. This study addresses the risk factors that contribute to the development of mental health illnesses from former athletes’ perspectives through qualitative research. The study includes former male and female participants ages 18 and older as well as their family members, friends, sports stakeholders, sports officials, coaches, social workers, and athletic training staff. This study was conducted from the constructivism perspective with a theoretical orientation concentrating on the Ecological Systems Theory. The social work implications of this study are to provide practitioners and community partners that work in athlete mental health with a better understanding of the specific needs experienced by athletes post athletic career. Common themes constructed by ex-athletes found in this study include identity crises, lack of social support systems, struggles of career transition, and mental health symptomology.