Psychol Sport Exerc. 2023 Sep;68:102474. doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2023.102474. Epub 2023 Jun 7.
OBJECTIVES: To contribute further knowledge about symptoms of anxiety, depression, body concerns, and self-worth among young talent development (TD) and mainstream students by exploring the indicators within-person combinations prospectively, aiming to identify distinct profiles.
METHODS: We included 946 students, n = 168 (45% girls) from three TD sports schools and one ballet class, n = 778 (52% girls) from ten mainstream schools. All were 13-14 years at T1 and 15-16 years at T2. Descriptive statistics were examined via variable-centered approaches: ANOVA and cross-tabulations. Mental health profiles were explored via person-centered approaches: latent profile and latent transition analysis, including profile stability over two years and school type, gender, and perfectionism association with profiles.
RESULTS: TD girls’ and boys’ anxiety and depression scores did not differ, but girls reported more weight-shape concerns. Mainstream schoolgirls fared worse compared to all others. Four retained profiles (distressed-body concerned, dissatisfied, moderate mentally healthy, mentally healthy) showed distinct patterns of co-occurring anxiety, depression, weight-shape concerns, and self-worth. Profile stability was high overall (72-93%). The highest proportion of TD boys was in the mentally healthy, TD girls and mainstream boys in moderate, and mainstream girls within the dissatisfied profile. Noteworthy transitions: TD boys who transitioned were likely changing to healthier profiles and girls to unhealthier. Unhealthier profiles were associated with socially prescribed perfectionism.
CONCLUSION: TD students fared relatively better than mainstream students. Still, considerable proportions of girls were identified in the unhealthiest profiles. These findings involving young TD and mainstream students propose a need for specific follow-up measures to promote mental health.