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Athlete mental illness: exploring the construction of stigmatized identities

   School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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  Dr A Papathomas  No more applications being accepted  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF, 2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career. Find out more.


Are you passionate about mental health? Are you motivated to produce research that supports athletes with experience of serious mental illness? Are you inspired by qualitative approaches to knowledge production? This self-funded PhD offers a unique opportunity to explore athletes’ personal accounts of living with mental illness. You will work with an experienced and supportive supervisory team within an elite academic environment.

Narrative identity theory suggests identity is performed through the stories we tell about who we are and who we are not. Narrative identities are always effortful co-constructions, guided by cultural norms and relational interactions. This PhD will explore the ways athletes living with mental illness narrate the self and the implications of this for psychosocial health and well-being.

Drawing on narrative analysis and other interpretive methodologies, you will interrogate how athletes' stories of mental illness in sport are proactively accomplished within sporting cultures. By what means do cultural players such as peers and coaches shape the storying of a stigmatized self? How do the broader institutional practices associated with elite sport constrain the types of story that can be told? What are the narrative consequences for the mental illness journey and ongoing athletic pursuits?


Primary supervisor: Dr Anthony Papathomas


Our entry requirements are listed using standard UK undergraduate degree classifications i.e. first-class honours, upper second-class honours and lower second-class honours.

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in either psychology, sport psychology or a related subject (e.g. sport and exercise science). A relevant Master’s degree in a psychology-related subject will be an advantage.

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.


All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select 'Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences'. Please quote the advertised reference number SSEHS/AP in your application. To avoid delays in processing your application please ensure that you submit the minimum supporting documents.

Apply now

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