Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Eliana Suarez

Advisor Role



Background: Mental health and sport related mental toughness have become prominent in the media in recent years. Successful athletes cope with stressful situations by building their mental toughness in response to challenging conditions. In university, athletes are required to maintain performance standards, school standards of excellence, and continue to develop their mental toughness. This study was motivated by the limited knowledge associated with female athletes, at a unique point in their life where they are challenged both academically, socially, and in their chosen sport.

Methods: This study proposed the following two questions; “What are the factors associated with mental toughness for elite female athletes in Ontario?” and “What is the current standing of mental health attitudes within elite female university athletes in Ontario?” This cross-sectional study used a quantitative online survey design and is grounded in a pragmatic paradigm. Mental health attitudes were measured by Community Attitudes towards Mental Health (CAMI), and the Psychological Performance Inventory- Alternative (PPI-A), a measured mental toughness.

Results: Using purposive and convenience sampling strategies, 60 participants were recruited who self-identified as female university students under 35 years old, participating in a varsity level sport, and currently attending an Ontario university. Multiple regression analyses found two models that explain 33.4% of the variance of mental toughness, and 33.8% of the variance of mental health attitudes. Attending school, and type of sport practiced, were strong contributors to both models as well as other factors.

Conclusion: This study brings forth implications for interdisciplinary research, practice, and policy, with an emphasis on psycho-educational, mental health, and sport-specific interventions, and potential change in sport culture for female athletes. Despite limitations, the study has the potential to contribute to the scarce literature with female elite university athletes in Ontario

Convocation Year


Included in

Social Work Commons