Symposium on the prevention of abuse and mental health disorders among athletes

This text is part of the Acfas Special Conference Brochure

A significant proportion of young athletes have already been a victim of violence or have experienced symptoms of a mental health disorder during their sporting career. But there are solutions to prevent these problems and provide better support for the children and teens who encounter them. These discoveries will be the topic of a symposium on May 11-12.

The event will be titled Maintaining the psychological and physical well-being of athletes in a sports context: uniting the forces of society and research. “There are implications that violence can have mental health effects. Conversely, some mental health issues involve violence as a risk factor,” sums up Sylvie Barnett, Research Chair on Safety and Integrity in Sport and co-chair of the symposium.

Without talking about cause and effect, Sylvie Barnett cites recent data that nonetheless proves links between violence and its consequences for self-esteem and mental health. “For example, for eating disorders, some athletes experience violence from certain people around them,” explains the person who is also a professor in the Department of Physical Education at Laval University.

The symposium will also address the issue of the psychological state of young athletes during the pandemic The method of work abusers, as well as the violence and exclusion of transgender athletes.

Several types of violence

Young people can suffer psychological, physical and sexual abuse, or even be victims of neglect, according to the lists Mme Parents. “When we talk about neglect, it’s something that wasn’t done, but that should have been done,” she explains.

Humiliation, screaming after a bad result, and psychological violence can sometimes be advocated by some to motivate athletes. We aim to increase performance and stimulate competitiveness. The intent is not necessarily to harm the athlete. Often times, psychological violence will be used in this way,” notes the researcher.

to me’Study on the experience of athletes in Quebec By Sylvie Parent and Marie-Pier Vaillancourt Morel published in 2020, more than one in four young adults (28.2%) said they had experienced sexual violence. And 79.2% of the 1,055 adolescents aged 14-17 who were questioned were victims of some form of psychological violence. Physical abuse affected 39.9% of respondents, and 35.7% said they had experienced neglect.

While this relevance model does not necessarily represent the exact picture of the situation in Quebec, “we still find roughly the same numbers internationally,” notes Parents.

Solutions tested in the field

If there is still “a lot of work to be done,” according to Mme Guardian, measures are already beginning to emerge to better support young people. The University of Sherbrooke has developed a mental health intervention plan for athletes. The same thing happens with violence,” she says.

She also cites Cohaesia’s initiative for Sport’Aide, which wants to equip coaches to act positively in their group. “They work specifically to prevent bullying within sports teams,” she concludes.

As part of the symposium at the AKVAS conference, Alexanne Prince-Pelletier, candidate for a master’s degree in Sexology from the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), will present a review of her thesis writing. His conference will focus in particular on the good and bad moves of managers in implementing sexual violence prevention measures.

She points out that the sports community is no longer affected by these violations more than others. “It’s similar across all institutions that work with young people,” she says, like schools, recreation centers and day camps. For her, the first step in combating this pest is training and educating managers.

The researcher also recalls the implementation of the policy to protect the integrity of the person in February 2021. This is in all sports federations in Quebec.

On his part, The guardian believes it is still too early to see the effect of the measure on the number of cases of violence or mental health problems among young athletes. “Organizations are currently collecting data. They will present it as part of the symposium,” she explains. However she would like to eventually evaluate it to check if the system is suitable and how to improve it.

Let’s see in the video

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