Summary Synthesis

The title of my Interdisciplinary Studies major is Exercise and Psychological Sciences. The focus of my major is encompassing all aspects of exercise and sport while also focusing on the mental health aspect of sport. I chose my courses to understand the following:

  • Bio-mechanics of movement
  • How to teach and instruct exercises
  • Psychological theories and models regarding athletes in an individual and team setting
  • How to create exercise plans
  • Today’s mental health issues
  • The many mental health disorders as outlined by the DSM-5
  • Anatomy and physiology of the human body
  • Effects of mental health on athletes

I fused many disciplines together such as psychology, exercise, biology, communications, and sport administration. This fusion of disciplines has led me to pursue graduate school in sport administration with a focus in intercollegiate athletics with the hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in sport psychology.

Applied Project

I decided to an applied project in conjunction with Residential Life at Plymouth State University because I am very interested in working with college students in a higher education system. Working with the staff in Blair Hall I was able to reach out to students and staff in order to create an improved Blair Fitness Facility. This contributed to my education in many ways and allowed me to explore all aspects of exercise, psychology, and administration. I was able to create and promote a variety of programs and other material among the facility as well as come up with plans to improve the facility. This gave me a great opportunity to take initiative and have a hands-on experience within my field of education.

Research Article

For my research article I chose to explore the effect of eating disorders on college athletes both female and male. The reason on focused on this topic is because I am passionate about both mental health and exercise as well as this is a rising issue in athletics. As a volleyball coach and collegiate player, I see athletes every day struggle with a variety of issues especially self-confidence. Self-confidence can lead to a variety of issues as outlined in my research article, however, eating disorders is one of the most prominent issues that can arise. This enhanced my educational experience because I was able to research something that I am very passionate about and then share it with others. I believe my work was able to start conversations with others and hopefully reduce the stigma around these issues.

Conclusion

My program courses paired very well with both my applied project and research article. My many comprehensive and detailed courses prepared to not only research and understand these complex topics and issues, but to talk about the topics professionally and without judgement. This impacted my education greatly and empowered me to move forward with my education and career. These courses and educational experiences have encouraged me to pursue graduate school and continue to help and advocate for athletes struggling with mental health.

PLN Portfolio: Senior Year Edition

As my college career comes to a close, I begin to reflect on my time at Plymouth State as well as my time as an Interdisciplinary Studies student. Part of this reflection begins with my personal learning network (PLN). When I first embarked on my journey as an IDS student, I did not even know what a PLN was let alone how to create such a thing. With the help of many friends, professors, and amazing IDS staff I was able to receive the guidance and encouragement needed to create my PLN.

For my PLN this past semester, I originally attempted to create a LinkedIn account, however, I was really unsure of how to use this for my field and it did not prove effective nor something often used in my field. Therefore, I chose to step away from the usage of LinkedIn and focus more on Twitter as a platform for my PLN.

My career goals since the IDS introduction course have changed quite a bit from Occupational Therapy to Sport Psychology in Higher Education. With this change came a change in my PLN. I followed many athletic conferences and organizations across the United States and globe as well as some of the leaders in today’s field of sport psychology. I often used posts from these connections on Twitter to fuel my passion for my own ePort posts.

Below you will find many of my tweets this semester that I either felt very proud of or gained attention from other members in my PLN.

This specific tweet gained lots of attention within my PLN and I was very proud of myself as it showed all the effort I have made while on my IDS journey as paid off. This tweet was retweeted by a leading behavioral health expert and the Atlantic 10 Athletic Conference. This tweet was also liked by many people including the Fordham Student-Athlete Advisory Council.

Retweeting and bringing awareness to mental health issues both related to sport and not was something I focused heavily on while continuing to build my PLN this past semester.

 

I also enjoyed celebrating my successes because of the IDS department!

 

Plymouth State Athletics does a great job promoting different organizations and raising money for charity. I used my PLN to promote some of these events as well as encourage others to take the same steps forward in combating today’s large issues with sport.

Promoting my own ePort posts was another great way to get my ideas out to my PLN while also continuing to develop ideas and passion for my work.

 

As someone who wants to work in higher education, I found it very beneficial to follow and retweet what the pioneers and leaders in this field were exploring and talking about.

Looking at large mental health initiatives and promoting these events as a way to build my PLN allowed me to explore today’s up and coming ideas of how to combat issues such as addiction.

A10 Mental Health Awareness Week #A10STRONG

Above, you will notice a tweet from the University of Richmond. This week is the A10 (Atlantic 10) Mental Health Awareness Week which is often promoted across the Atlantic 10 Athletic Conference college campuses. Small efforts like the one you see above normalize and reduce the stigma of mental health amongst our world. As someone who is looking to pursue a career in how mental health plays a pivotal role in athletics, this is encouraging to see current institutions also passionate about this bond between mental health and athletics. College athletes struggle every day with a variety of things ranging from time managment to dealing with the pressures of being an athlete. It is important that athletic organizations and departments place the same emphasis on mental health as they do physical health. I applaud the Atlantic 10 for designing a whole week into raising awareness for mental health and helping reduce the stigma. My hope is that other schools and organizations will follow the lead of the Atlantic 10 as each effort is another step forward.

Research Article Outline

As a visual learner, I often outline my work by creating an image either handwritten or digitally. To keep my process moving forward, I have choosen to create a web on Microsoft Word outlining what topics I will breakdown and cover throughout my work. This web can be found by clicking on the link to my RA Web.

Resources for College Student-Athletes

This week I really focused on my feelings regarding the issue of athletes with eating disorders in college. I think an essential part of research is being able to reflect on your own thoughts and feelings and brainstorm your own ideas and/or solutions. I believe the largest issue in this situation is the lack of resources at colleges. We see at big universities that there are often psychologists and team mental health coaches, but the issue is most universities are not this size nor have the budget. Having sport psychologists and counselors specifically for athletes I believe is beneficial since many athletes deal with different issues and pressures that the normal student does not face. Reflecting on what resources we have PSU, we have many resources, but do not have specialized resources for athletes. On campus, PSU offers the counseling center to students which includes individual therapy as well as group therapy. Other mental health services that PSU offers is Lakes Region Mental Health, which offers discounts to students of PSU. Health Services will also provide medication to students at PSU for mental health issues. I believe PSU offers many services to its students, but more specific for student-athletes is what is needed to make our mental health care here better. I also feel as though having a nutritionist on campus that is specifically trained to help with the recovery of eating disorders would be beneficial to all students. We have a nutritionist in the dining hall, but not one for student athletes, let alone anyone on campus that has the specific skills to help any student with an eating disorder. My hope is that PSU will continue to move forward with the services they offer as well as other universities will see the importance of having specific resources for student-athletes.

Another Update

After doing further research and work on both my article and project I have found my topics to be flourishing.

In the past week I have developed and finalized many of my sources for the research article. I was able to even find an article written by a former professor here at Plymouth State University. The article highlighted many of the differences and similarities between two elite female and male runners struggling with eating disorders. The article was written by Rebecca Busanich as well as two of her colleagues and titled: Comparing Elite Male and Female Distance Runner’s Experiences of Disordered Eating Through Narrative Analysis.  Another source I found was from the NCAA which highlighted and simplified what eating disorders are and what the NCAA can do to help be part of the solution.

This week I was able to put up a bulletin board as the first part of my project. This board highlighted key core workouts and suggested a specific core workout. This was an awesome way to help students out as well as show what I have learned in course work. I will be tracking how many workout forms are taken and hopefully need to refill the folder soon! Here is the link to part of the bulletin board that was posted this week in the Blair Fitness Facility! BB1-Core

Research Article Precis

Black, D. R. (1991). Eating disorders among athletes: Theory, issues, and research. Reston, VA: Association for the Advancement of Health Education and National Association for Girls and Women in Sport, Associations of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.

David R. Black in the book, Eating Disorders Among Athletes (1991) explains the many different key words and issues amongst athletes with eating disorders. Black supports his claims by describing the history and factors of eating disorders. The author’s purpose is to inform so the reader has a better understanding of athletes with eating disorders. The author writes in a formal tone for researchers and those looking to get a higher understanding of the topic.

Parry, J. W. (2017). The athletes dilemma: Sacrificing health for wealth and fame. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

John Weston Parry in the book, The Athlete’s Dilemma: Sacrificing Health for Wealth and Fame (2017), describes the recent issues in sport regarding eating disorders, blood doping, and other issues. Parry supports his claims by illustrating the flaws of athletics starting at the youth level. The author’s purpose is to point out the flaws and struggles of those in athletics in order to educate about current events. The author writes in an earnest tone for young adults eager to learn more about the struggles in athletics.

Busanich, R., McGannon, K. R., & Schinke, R. J. (2014). Comparing elite male and female distance runner’s experiences of disordered eating through narrative analysis. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 15(6), 705-712.

In the article, “Comparing Elite Male and Female Distance Runner’s Experiences of Disordered Eating Through Narrative Analysis” (2014), describes the experiences of two elite runners and their struggle with eating disorders. The authors support their conclusions by describing the experiences of the athletes through narrative analysis. The authors’ purpose is to show that elite athletes often have a unique experience when being confronted with an eating disorder. The author writes in a formal tone for researchers and other high-level learners.

 

Galli, N., Petrie, T., & Chatterton, J. (2017). Team weigh-ins and self-weighing: relations to body-related perceptions and disordered eating in collegiate male athletes. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 2951-55.

Galli, Petrie, and Chatterton in the article, Team Weigh-Ins and Self-Weighing: Relations to Body-Related Perceptions and Disordered Eating in Collegiate Male Athletes (2017) suggests that male athletes generally get satisfaction when looking at physical appearance and not a scale. The authors support their claims by gathering data from multiple male college athletes. The author’s purpose is to point out that student athletes are all different and their ability to cope with eating disorders is also very different. The author writes in a formal tone for researchers and others eager to learn about eating disorders.

Disordered Eating in Student-Athletes: Understanding the Basics and What We Can Do About It. (2014, March 04). Retrieved March 15, 2017, from http://www.ncaa.org/health-and-safety/nutrition-and-performance/disordered-eating-student-athletes-understanding-basics

The NCAA in the online article, Disordered Eating in Student-Athletes: Understanding the Basics and What We Can Do About it (2014) explains the basics of eating disorders and what the NCAA and general public can do about this issue. The NCAA supports their information by breaking down eating disorders into basic terms and ways to treat these disorders. The author’s purpose is to inform so that the NCAA is able to convey their message and prevention of eating disorders. The author writes in an informal tone for all readers to understand the NCAA information about eating disorders.

Diving Further into Research

This week I have done a lot research in relation to my research article project. I have shifted the focus of my research from all mental health issues for college student-athletes, which is a very broad topic to eating disorders for college student-athletes. I look to answer the questions of what physically and mentally do these athletes face every day as well as how can we treat these individuals? They face challenges every day and it is important to understand these challenges to best help the athletes.

This week I watched a short documentary about a boy who is struggling with anorexia. The film follows Charles as he finishes his treatment and meets his old classmates again after being gone for about two years. Although this film is not about a college student, Charles is 18 years old as well as I thought it was important to understand the specific challenges males may face when it comes to eating disorders. Charles was hospitalized for nearly two years and was the only male present in the unit. Charles described many of the challenges he faced prior, during, and after treatment. One of the challenges he deeply discusses is having a target weight and that fear of reaching it. After weighing in, Charles experienced a panic attack due to the pressure of weighing in and getting closer to that goal. When Charles met with his classmates for the first time in two years one of the things Charles was open about was that he didn’t realize it was an eating disorder. I believe this is because there is so much stigma around anorexia especially and the idea that men cannot experience this challenge. Although that is not true, I believe many men fail to see their struggle because they see eating disorders, especially anorexia, as a “girl’s only issue”. Moving forward with my research I believe this will be very beneficial in providing reference and insight to the minds of many men struggling with anorexia.

Sources:

Radio1Newsbeat. “Anorexia: A Boy in a Girl’s World | BBC Newsbeat.” YouTube, YouTube, 8 May 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUHJOFE-JnA.