Getting psyched up: Developing the field of Sport and Exercise Psychiatry in South Africa
Elite athletes and their entourage are exposed to intense stressors and commonly experience mental health symptoms and disorders. While there is limited literature on prevalence rates in a South African setting, initial data show that both current and retired athletes may experience these symptoms, but with low treatment rates. There is a need to improve mental health literacy and mental health care in athletes. Athletes may benefit from systematic mental health surveillance and additional screening during high-risk periods, such as injury or retirement. This commentary brings athlete mental health into focus and advocates for the inclusion of sport and exercise psychiatry into the athlete entourage and broader mental health team, in order to close the treatment gap. We provide seven recommendations for the initial way forward for sport and exercise psychiatry in South Africa.
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