Women's use of sport as identity-work in managing mental health and trauma

Elsevier, Women's Studies International Forum, Volume 92, 1 May 2022
Forsdike K., Sawyer A.-M., Fullagar S., Marjoribanks T.
While there is much research on men's mental health and sport, there has been less focus on women's gendered experiences of mental health and sport. Sport is widely considered to improve or sustain mental health, but it can be a problematic space for women. Focusing on four in-depth interviews with two women from a case study of an Australian field hockey club, we examine how women negotiate and manage their mental health and recovery from trauma through sport participation. Analysis is informed by a narrative approach that focuses on the enactment of gendered identities through stories that complicate relations between playing hockey and mental health. While sport facilitates women's identity-work and mental health recovery, we demonstrate how it can also produce additional challenges due to the gendered power relations shaping their experiences within sport and society more broadly.