Honors Senior Theses/Projects

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Exit Requirement

Undergraduate Honors Thesis/Project


Honors Program

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Emily Vala-Haynes

Honors Program Director

Dr. Gavin Keulks


Collegiate student-athletes must navigate a combination of athletic and academic demands, which poses unique challenges and stressors that distinguish them from their non-athlete counterparts. Because of these major differences, student-athletes’ needs are not necessarily met by programs designed for the general college student. In this thesis, I review growing research on the distinct mental health needs of student-athletes as well as programs that best support them. I also present results from informational interviews with both athletic staff and student-athletes to gain a more thorough understanding of the specific needs and desires of the Western Oregon University Athletic Department. Results indicate that there are common times of increased stress, shared desires for added support, and influential individuals in student-athletes’ lives. More support is needed to assist student-athletes in coping with the immense stress of these unprecedented times. Considering the combination of findings from recent studies and responses from interviews, the WOU athletic community would benefit from the designation of an athletic representative within campus counseling staff, ongoing mental health education opportunities for coaches and athletes, and more cross-team, community events.