Positive Psychology in Collegiate Sport: Leveraging the Pivotal Role of the Athletic Trainer to Promote Student-Athlete Well-being
Mental and Social Health
Research suggests that the state of collegiate student-athlete psychological health is poor, and current protocols for identification and referral are insufficient. According to the NCAA and NATA, the athletic trainer plays an essential part in this identification and referral process. Yet, many ATs report lacking confidence and readiness to address the psychological components of athletic injury. They also struggle to navigate unclear policies that obfuscate effective action. While diagnosing and treating psychological illness is outside of the ATs scope of practice, in order to improve the athletic trainer’s ameliorative capacity, positive psychology should be an integral component of their educational competencies. Positive psychology, as a growing facet of psychology and healthcare, focuses on the importance of well-being as a significant contributor to mental health. In order to bolster student-athlete wellness, the NATA must strongly consider adopting initiatives that enhance positive emotions, psychological well-being, and optimal functioning, through greater incorporation of evidence-based constructs of positive psychology into the NATA Code of Ethics and Educational Competencies.