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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 11/20/2013

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)



While physical activity and sports participation offer physical, social, and emotional benefits for participants, athletes and others may also experience mental health consequences that complicate the benefits. The performance pressures, culture of playing through the pain, fear of losing a career, and widespread discrimination related to seeking help for mental health or substance use issues discourage many athletes—professional, collegiate, and amateur—from seeking help early or at all. Unfortunately, this reluctance has led to needless suffering and, at times, to tragic outcomes, including suicide.

Acknowledging a mental or substance use disorder takes courage. Increasingly, in recent years, many prominent athletes have stepped forward to talk about their mental health and addictions problems, thus paving the way for others to seek help. Athletes who have faced the unique challenges of managing mental health and/or substance use disorders while continuing to train, compete, and remain in the public eye are to be recognized, even admired, for their strength and perseverance. These role models have walked their individual paths of recovery and are leading the way for others to follow.

This Web page provides information and links to research and organizations that address the complex issue of mental health in the sports world. Helping athletes, trainers, coaches, and others better understand the unique challenges athletes face, these resources outline ways to promote positive mental health, support athletes in recovery, and reduce discrimination.

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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.