Athlete and Nonathlete Intentions to Self-Manage Mental Health: Applying the Integrated Behavior Change Model to the State of Mind Program

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University students are vulnerable to mental health issues, and stigma remains a barrier to engagement with mental health care services (O'Neill, Mc Lafferty, Ennis, Lapsley, Bjourson, Armour, Murphy, Bunting, & Murray, 2018). It has been argued that student athletes may be less likely than non-athletes to seek help (Donohue et al, 2018), partly due to a sport culture that celebrates mental toughness, winning at all costs, and not showing weakness (Bauman, 2016). To our knowledge, theory-based psychoeducational programmes that promote self-management are lacking for athletes (Breslin and Leavey, 2019). The present study is in response to the lack of theory-based interventions, with two aims: (1) to determine whether a mental health awareness and self-management psychoeducational programme called State of Mind Ireland (SOMI) could improve intentions to self-manage mental health for both athletes and non-athletes; and (2) to apply the Integrated Behaviour Change Model (IBCM) framework to determine what mechanisms inherent within IBCM contributed to self-management of mental health. Two hundred students (Mean age = 21.10 years, SD=3.73, male = 53%) took part, 146 received the SOMI intervention programme (101 athletes and 45 non-athletes), while 54 (38 athletes and 16 non-athletes) were an inactive control group. Baseline and post-intervention motivation and belief-based measures were collected via a self-report questionnaire. Two regression models subscribing to IBCM processes were specified. In comparison to the control group, the intervention group showed an increase in self-management intentions (p <.05), which was facilitated indirectly through the intervention’s direct changes in autonomous (β=.13, p<.05) and controlled motivation (β=.18, p<.05), and direct (β =.28, p <.05) and indirect (β=.14, p<0.05) changes in the attitude factor of the Theory of Planned Behaviour. Model 1 (autonomous motivation) and 2 (controlled motivation) explained R2=.20 and R2=.23 of the variance predicting self-management intentions respectively. This is the first study to incorporate the IBCM into a mental health promotion intervention among student athletes. Lay Summary We wanted to determine whether the State of Mind Ireland Programme can improve intentions to self-manage mental health, and to explain any changes through the Integrated Behaviour Change Model. Those who received the programme showed an increase in intentions to self-manage their mental health, through improved autonomous and controlled motivation, and attitudes towards self-managing mental health. The programme can be integrated into athlete and non-athlete service provision as a prevention method.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Sport Psychology
Early online date20 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2019

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