NOTE: This is the latest in a series of Q&A stories featuring Brock University faculty members who are integrating the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games into their research projects. For more information on Brock’s academic activities around the Games, visit brocku.ca/canada-games
Central to Professor of Kinesiology Diane Mack’s research is understanding what contributes to well-being. While most of her work addresses behaviours such as physical activity and psychological mechanisms linked to well-being, work with her colleagues has extended to include behaviour change, motivation, self-compassion and pride. Her interests have been investigated using diverse study designs and include the use of meta-analytic investigations.
Mack is one of eight Brock researchers and scholars who received funding under the 2021-22 round of the VPR Canada Games Grant program. Here, she discusses her research project titled “Prioritizing Mental Health: An Investigation of Canadian Olympic Sport Organizations.”
Please give a brief overview of your research project
Safeguarding athletes and promoting mental health is the responsibility of all members of an athlete’s entourage. With this aim in mind, we are looking at the strategies identified by Canadian Olympic sport organizations to support athlete mental health. These supports may involve mandatory mental health training for coaches, the inclusion of sport psychologists and/or counsellors as part of an integrated support team, or the development of a mental health toolkit. We are identifying these strategies through a systematic review of Canadian sport organizations’ websites.
What do you expect will be the outcome of your research?
We hope to better understand strategies to support athlete mental health that are common across Canadian Olympic sport organizations and those that are less supportive. Through this descriptive study, we can speak to best practices to support athlete mental health for all members of an athlete’s entourage.
How will this contribute to knowledge or understanding of the Canada Summer Games?
The Canada Summer Games brings together people invested in developing athletes, including coaches, athletic trainers and administrators. Supporting and promoting mental health is core to athlete development. Findings from our research may highlight gaps in supporting and promoting athlete mental health that sport organizations may look to integrate into current practice.
How did you become interested in this research?
I have had a longstanding interest in sport and mental health, particularly the promotion of well-being. This interest has become a focal component of the work in our lab and has extended into a recently developed undergraduate course for those interested in learning more about this topic.
How do you plan on sharing your research?
We will look to share our research through numerous avenues, including the Canada Summer Games research showcase and peer-reviewed publications. We would hope to connect with administrators from various Canadian Olympic sport organizations to share our findings and better support their interest in athlete mental health.
Do you have any advice or tips on how colleagues in your Faculty can incorporate the Canada Games into their research?
Athlete development requires a coherent and collaborative effort from people with expertise across a number of disciplines. Members of the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences are well positioned to serve in this role, both from an empirical and applied perspective. The Canada Summer Games provides an opportunity to bring together people from diverse disciplines who share a common goal.