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Elite Youth Athletes’ Mental Health and Its Relationship with the Talent Development Environment: A Variable- and Person-Centred Approach

Cao, Xingni; Martindale, Russell; Cho, Heetae; Li, Chunxiao


Xingni Cao

Heetae Cho

Chunxiao Li


The present research sought to examine the prevalence of elite youth athletes’ mental health and its relationship with talent development environments (TDEs). A sample of 248 Chinese elite youth athletes completed a self-report survey measuring demographic variables, TDE factors, and mental health outcomes including generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), depression, and athlete burnout. The results revealed moderate levels of burnout, with 19% of the participants meeting the diagnostic cut-off of GAD, and similar numbers for depression. The multiple regression analysis revealed alignment of expectations was the only TDE factor to significantly predict GAD and depression. Holistic quality preparation was the only significant TDE predictor of burnout. The results of cluster analysis suggested a three cluster solution: cluster 1 — “slightly below average TDE”, cluster 2 — “high TDE”, and cluster 3 — “very low TDE”. Among the three clusters, cluster 2 had the lowest levels of GAD, depression, and burnout. Cluster 3 reported a higher burnout level than cluster 1, and the two clusters showed no differences in other two mental health outcomes. These findings suggest a need to manage mental health symptoms of elite youth athletes and the roles of TDE could be considered in the management of mental health.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 3, 2023
Online Publication Date Jul 15, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Jul 4, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jul 16, 2024
Electronic ISSN 2332-7839
Publisher David Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 41
Issue 7
Pages 706-714
Keywords talent development, environmental factor, psychological health, sport