The Breadth of Mental Ill-Health Stigma Research in Sport: A Scoping Review

Brennan Petersen, Robert J. Schinke, Cole E. Giffin and Michel Larivière

School of Kinesiology and Health Services, Laurentian University 935 Ramsey Lake Rd, Sudbury, On, Canada


Petersen, B., Schinke, R.J., Giffin, C.E., Larivière, M. (2023). The Breadth of Mental Ill-Health Stigma Research in Sport: A Scoping Review. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 54(1), 67-90. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2023.54.067


Mental ill-health affects athletes at prevalence rates similar to the general population, despite beliefs that athletes are protected by highly physically active lifestyles. Though discussions of stigma are ubiquitous within sport, the research landscape on mental ill-health stigma in sport is unclear. Consequently, we con- ducted a scoping review overviewing the extant literature and researchers’ ap- proaches to stigma in sport. We collated data from 68 articles and provided in- terpretations of the emergent trends. Researchers have primarily focused on athlete help-seeking and mental health literacy in relation to stigma. Additionally, future research should clarify the type of stigma under study and explore struc- tural stigma, which remains a significant literature gap. Finally, shifting toward open-ended and inclusive research methodologies can centralize participants’ in- volvement, incorporating their experiences and leading to progressive understand- ing of mental ill-health stigma. Our findings present future research directions and research suggestions to expand mental ill-health stigma in sport research

Keywords: Stigma, mental health, mental illness, sport, athletes