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Abstract

Given the exponential growth of mental health issues on colleges campuses and the concerns regarding mental health disorders among elite level athletes, the NCAA (2016) has made recommendations to support and promote student-athlete mental health. However, to successfully address the increase in mental health issues, the development of effective communication skills is required. To address this, the researchers developed and built an immersive learning experience focused on “difficult conversations” using Mursion® technology. This pilot study contributes to this important conversation by analyzing the influence of an immersive experience on the student-athletes’ communication skills. Using a quasi-experimental design, 79 NCAA Division I student-athletes took part in the study (40 control; 39 Mursion®). Both groups completed a pre-survey to assess their ability to deal with “difficult” scenarios, and a post-survey 3-5 weeks after the pre-test. Results indicate that Mursion® participants experienced, although not statistically significant, increase in interpersonal communication competence. The results also demonstrated differences across gender and racial/ethnic categories. This study provides the initial evidence that Mursion® is an effective, timely, cost-effective tool to enhance athletes’ communication skills; consequently, it is critical to not only improving the student-athlete experience but also addressing future student-athlete mental health and well-being.

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