Lifting the veil of depression and alcoholism in sport coaching: how do we care for carers?

Roberts, Simon J., Baker, May, Reeves, Matthew orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3903-2910, Jones, Gary and Cronin, Colum (2019) Lifting the veil of depression and alcoholism in sport coaching: how do we care for carers? Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 11 (4). pp. 510-526. ISSN 2159-676X

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The purpose of this article is to explore the insights of an elite sport coach living with comorbid depression and alcohol misuse. Such consideration is necessary because as coaching is increasingly repositioned as a caring activity the wellbeing of coaches themselves has rarely been considered. To address this gap, a narrative analysis methodology and a story telling approach was used to present the experiences of a case study coach (Steve). The story is derived from Steve’s own perspective and the perspective of his wife, Jane. This novel multi-voiced approach reveals the complex interplay between the sporting environment, Steve’s depression and his alcohol-related problems. In doing so, Steve’s story makes an original contribution by unveiling the issue of mental health in elite sport coaching. Steve’s story depicts the significant impact of depressive symptoms, coupled by excessive alcohol use on a coach, their personal life and their career. Using the work of Goffman and Sartre, the story alludes to how such symptoms can be hidden, to greater and lesser extents, from professional colleagues. This is an important theoretical contribution, because to care for coaches, colleagues, employers and health professionals will need to understand the needs of individuals such as Steve. Developing an open and supportive culture, which accepts that coaches are fallible, may however be a challenge within professional sport contexts.

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