Whitehorse Daily Star

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SURVEY CONDUCTED – Whitehorse Glacier Bears swimmer Amelia Ford hosted a Yukon Athlete Mental Health Survey. She was inspired to see if her fellow athletes felt the same after COVID-19 impacted their training and competition schedules. Photo by SIMON BLAKESLY PHOTOGRAPHY

Survey gauges Yukon athletes' mental health

Amelia Ford, 15, a Whitehorse Glacier Bears swimmer, conducted a Yukon Athlete Mental Health Survey to see how the territory’s athletes were coping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By John Tonin on June 18, 2020

Amelia Ford, 15, a Whitehorse Glacier Bears swimmer, conducted a Yukon Athlete Mental Health Survey to see how the territory’s athletes were coping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The idea first came to fruition because of a school assignment.

“I had to do a project for careers,” said Ford. “It had to be something we were interested in for our future and I thought sport psychology.

“I drafted questions and sent them to Tracey Bilsky before circulating the survey.”

She was also motivated to conduct the questionnaire to see if her fellow athletes could relate to how she was feeling after her swim season was iced.

“I was inspired by how I was feeling when competitions were cancelled,” said Ford. “I wanted to see how others felt.”

When the survey was posted, Ford said, she had a flood of athletes respond.

The survey featured 15 questions and had 84 respondents spanning over 17 sports. Hockey, 18, cross country skiing, 14, and soccer, 12, were the sports with the most representation.

Of the 84 athletes, 44.05 per cent were aged 14/15; 16/17 was 27.38 per cent; 12/13, 23.81 per cent; and 18, 4.76 per cent.

Forty-four of the athletes who responded were female, 40 were male.

The responses to question 13: “Has there been anything good that has come from this situation in regards to your sport and training?” were a big surprise to Ford.

“I was expecting a lot of people to say they’ve started new training but instead I got a lot of no’s,” she said.

The question was one of two in the survey that wasn’t multiple choice.

For swimming, Ford said there have still been training sessions even though the pool remains closed.

“We’ve still been focused on training, doing dryland on Zoom and we started running a lot,” she said.

According to the survey, the majority of the 84 athletes, 34.52 per cent, were training 6-10 hours a week – 33.33 per cent were training 11-15 hours a week.

Now, 50 per cent of the respondents are training 0-5 hours a week.

The survey continued to ask how often the athletes have felt anxious, scared, frustrated and sad about not training.

They were also asked if they felt the impacts of COVID-19 would damage their performance in training for competitions and if they felt it would be difficult to start training again.

Their answer choices were, often, sometimes, rarely, and never.

Of the 82 athletes who answered if they felt anxious about not training, 31 said they sometimes feel anxiety. Rarely was the majority, 23, for those who felt scared about not training.

Fifty per cent felt said they often feel frustrated they couldn’t train, and 35 of 80 respondents said often about feeling sad about not training.

The majority, 37 of 81, said often they feel the impacts of COVID will hinder their future performances.

Sometimes, 24 of 82, was the most picked answer to whether athletes believed it would be difficult to restart training.

The results to this question were close, 23 answered rarely and 22 answered often – 13 responded never.

When her competitions were cancelled, Ford said, she felt sad, so it wasn’t a surprise when 76.19 per cent of athletes responded “sad” to “if you’ve had competitions/meets/sanctioned events cancelled due to COVID-19, are you feeling sad, angry, anxious, stressed, other, none of these apply.” Athletes we asked to select all that apply.

“I knew people were going to feel sad, nearly everyone was sad,” said Ford. “I know I can’t wait to compete again, I miss competitions.”

To view the full survey and results, it can be found on the Sport Yukon Facebook page.

Ford said she was happy that she did this survey.

“It really helped with my grade,” said Ford. “But it was nice to see other athletes in all sports were feeling the same.”

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