Class of 2021
- Exercise Science
Good Food, Good Mood: Perspectives on the relationship between nutrition and mental health within CAA Division I collegiate athletic programs
- Caroline Ketcham, professor of exercise science
- Eric Hall, professor of exercise science
Research has shown a strong relationship between one’s diet and mental health. The student-athlete population may be more susceptible to mental health issues than the general population, and few athletes are fully aware of the effects that nutrition can have on their brain and athletic performance. Collegiate athletic programs are beginning to recognize the individual importances of nutrition and mental health on performance, but it is unclear whether these topics are ever discussed within the same context. The goal of this study was to learn and compare the perspectives of different athletic personnel on the relationship between nutrition and mental health. During the summer of 2020, 13 athletic personnel (8 Female, 5 Male) from 4 Division I universities (marked A-D) were interviewed on their educational backgrounds, resources and perspectives on the integration of nutrition and mental health in their programs. All were from the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) except for school B, which was included for its proximity and frequent competition with the other included schools. Overall, each interviewed university was in the beginning stages of integrating nutrition and mental health programs into their existing athletic departments, and all staff expressed a need for greater resources in order to make the integration of nutrition and mental health a success.