International Society for Sports Psychiatry

Position Statements

Position Statement on Mental Health and Physical Activity

Studies have shown that the process of exercise brings about both short- and long-term benefits to mental well-being.   This includes a positive effect on self-esteem, reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression and improved sleep. Anxiety, depression, anger, fatigue have been shown to decrease following physical exercise while energy increases.  Positive changes in self-perceptions, self-efficacy and self-confidence often occur.  Improved cognitive function and ability to cope with daily activity are common benefits of physical activity.  Physical activity can attenuate or prevent the symptoms of burnout. 

Numerous studies report the positive relationship between level of physical activity, and it effects on mental health.  The lSSP encourages all people to participate in physical activity on a regular basis. It is recommended that they engage in aerobic, anerobic, strength/resistance exercises along with activities that promote balance and flexibility.  Exercise if often an important component of psychiatric treatment for people of all ages and cultures.

ISSP in Solidarity with Athletes of Color facing Racial Injustices, and Commitment to Action Against Racism

Since its founding in 1994 the International Society for Sports Psychiatry (ISSP) has worked to evolve the specialty of sports psychiatry. Starting from a small group of enthusiastic psychiatrists, eager to study and practice the role of psychiatry in sport, the ISSP has developed into an influential group of psychiatric physicians. We continue to advance the science and practice of mental health care for athletes of all types and cultural backgrounds.

In recent months, we have seen the dreadful history of racism come to a head and explode in civil unrest globally. We acknowledge that as a professional society, we have been influenced by the systemic racism that has affected cultures worldwide, and the intrinsic bias against Black People of Color and athletes from other racial backgrounds. Systemic racism is a worldwide enduring problem that undermines the mental health of the athletic community that we serve. We can better understand the mental health of those we serve when we truly understand their life histories, communities, and cultures. We must strongly advocate for respect and opportunity for all athletes. The ISSP is against both overt discrimination as well as systemic cultural practices that traumatize athletes and impair the mental health of the entire athletic community. We acknowledge that the mental health of athletes of color requires an active commitment to learn about the experiences of discrimination. We add our voice to this movement, and we draw upon its momentum to improve who we are and how we serve.

The ISSP recognizes that some of its members may be more personally and profoundly affected by these incidents. We stand by you, and outrightly condemn acts of racism. Furthermore, the ISSP accepts that it is, and should be, everyone’s concern to address racial inequalities and injustices. We see the need to not only speak out on racism, but to do the work as an organization to play our part in helping the world to confront racism. The ISSP plans to become an active participant in this movement by committing to produce a formal series of actions with the guidance of the advisory committee on racial and social justice.   

Action steps to address racial injustice against Black, Indigenous,

and people of color (BIPOC)

·         Draft and adopt a specific position paper on racism.

·         Involve the entirety of ISSP with implementing action steps across the organization

·         Offer a cultural sensitivity course as well as resources and reading material on the topics of racism and racism in sport on the ISSP website

·         Incorporate cultural sensitivity education within the Certificate of Additional Training in Sports Psychiatry

·         Work toward additional representation on the ISSP board by BIPOC

·         Promote scientific research and professional writing around racial and social justice issues in sport.

·         Conduct a symposium focused on racism, cultural sensitivity, social justice, and inclusion in sport

·         Engage the BIPOC athletic community by lending support to existing athlete-led associations and councils as they confront the issues of racism

·         Encourage mentorship opportunities for both BIPOC mentors and psychiatrists or trainees with interests in sports psychiatry