The SSSPP: A novel perspective on the subspecialty of psychiatry and psychotherapy, and sports medicine

The Swiss Society for Sports Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (SSSPP) was founded on March 29, 2019. Worldwide, the SSSPP is the second society for sports psychiatry to be founded after the International Society of Sports Psychiatry (ISSP) and the first national institution of this type.

Sports Psychiatry

Physical activity (PA) improves mental wellbeing and reduces the risk to develop several mental disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, and dementia.1 Structured and supervised physical exercise might be an alternative or additional treatment strategy for the above mentioned mental disorders as well as posttraumatic stress disorder or the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia.1

Moreover, psychiatric patients are at higher risk to be physically inactive with increased morbidity and mortality.1 Exercise is Medicine® [exerciseismedicine.org], this applies for mentally ill patients as well as for the general population.

For those reasons, assessing and improving PA should be a standard procedure in psychiatric care, in order to improve mental and physical health.1

In competitive sports, mental health symptoms and mental disorders are common health problems.2 Mental health and physical health cannot be considered independently: Mental health problems in sports can influence performance, increase the risk of physical injuries, and prolong rehabilitation. Injuries in turn have an impact on performance and constitute stress and risk for mental health. 2

A specialized medical discipline for mental health in competitive sports has not (yet) been established.3 Approaches to improve mental health as well as psychiatric and psychotherapeutic care in competitive sports should include the implementation of sports psychiatry as a professional and specialized discipline for mental health in competitive sports.3

Physical activity in the prevention and treatment of mental disorders is equally a field of sports psychiatry as mental health in competitive sports.4 Both are mirrored in the SSSPP.5

Sports related disorders in popular sports, e.g. muscle dysmorphia and exercise addiction as well as distinct substance use disorder are often also considered as themes of sports psychiatry. These disorders are not mapped in the two established fields of sports psychiatry. For that reason, a third field of activity in sports psychiatry is suggested: Sports related disorders in popular sports; Figure.

Sports Medicine

Sports psychiatry acts currently as a subspecialty of psychiatry and psychotherapy including child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy.

“Sports medicine is a multidisciplinary clinical and academic specialty (and subspecialty in some countries) of medicine dealing with health promotion for the general population by stimulating a physically active lifestyle and diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation following injuries or illnesses from participation to physical activities, exercises and sport at all levels.”

[European Union of Medical Specialist: Definition of Sports Medicine6]

This definition of sports medicine corresponds to sports psychiatry. Therefore, sports psychiatry should be established as a subspecialty of psychiatry and psychotherapy, and in the field of sports medicine; Figure.

Education and Training

Approaches for improving of physical activity in the prevention and treatment of mental disorders as well as sports psychiatric care in sports require education and training.

Systematic postgraduate teaching programs are an important part of every subspecialty. The SSSPP has developed a three-part curriculum in qualifying in sports psychiatry.7 This program is the first of its kind; Figure.

Education and training in sports medicine is important for sports psychiatrists, and sports psychiatry basic supply is important for sports physicians. For that reasons, interdisciplinary exchange, between sports psychiatrists, and sports physicians is considered essential within the curriculum.

Concluding remarks

Sports psychiatry is a subspecialty of psychiatry and psychotherapy, and in the field of sports medicine. Its fields of activity consist of promoting physical activity in the prevention and treatment of mental disorders and mental health in competitive sports as well as popular sports.

Interdisciplinary exchange of information, in clinical care, research and education, e.g. in sports medicine, sports and exercise studies, and sports psychology, along with bridging the gap to clinical psychiatry and psychotherapy constitute core values of sports psychiatry.

Author & affiliations:

Malte Christian Claussen malte.claussen@pukzh.ch

President Swiss Society for Sports Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (SSSPP)

University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich, Private Clinic Wyss AG, Münchenbuchsee, Psychiatric Services Grisons, Switzerland

References:

  1. Imboden C , Claussen MC , Gerber M , et al . Swiss Society for Sports Psychiatry and Psychotherapy SSSPP. SSSPP Position paper: Physical activity and mental health. Swiss Sports & Exercise Medicine. 2020;68(3):9-12. doi:10.34045/SEMS/2020/21
  2. Reardon CL , Hainline B , Aron CM , et al . Mental health in elite athletes: International Olympic Committee consensus statement (2019). British journal of sports medicine. 2019;53(11):667-99. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2019-100715
  3. Claussen MC , Gonzalez Hofmann C , Imboden C, et al . Swiss Society for Sports Psychiatry and Psychotherapy SSSPP. SSSPP Position paper: Mental health in competitive sport. Swiss Sports & Exercise Medicine. 2020;68(3):23-6. doi:10.34045/SEMS/2020/20
  4. Strohle A . Sports psychiatry: mental health and mental disorders in athletes and exercise treatment of mental disorders. European archives of psychiatry and clinical neuroscience. 2019;269(5):485-98. doi:10.1007/s00406-018-0891-5
  5. Claussen MC . Swiss Society for Sports Psychiatry and Psychotherapy SSSPP. Swiss Sports & Exercise Medicine. 2020;68(3):5-6. doi:10.34045/SEMS/2020/37
  6. European Union of Medical Specialist. European Standards of Postgraduate Medical Specialist Training. Training Requirements for the Specialty of Sports Medicine. Available: https://www.uems.eu/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/110372/ETR-Sports-Medicine.pdf [Accessed 15 Jan 2021].
  7. Claussen MC , Imboden C , Seifritz E , et al . SSSPP Curriculum Sports Psychiatry And Psychotherapy: Level 1. Manuscript submitted for publication.

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