Resilience and mental health among students at sports high school during Covid-19 pandemic

In the spring of 2020, the world was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic (C-19), which affected the lives of many people. School education was clearly affected and for students at sports-oriented high schools in Sweden (Nationella idrottsgymnasium, NIU), the C-19 situation meant more personal responsibility for theoretical knowledge acquisition and planning of physical training. For some students, this changed form of teaching and training led to significant problems and negative challenges, while for others it meant opportunities for developed self-responsibility and increased self-insight. Achieving a positive function in the face of adversity serves as an appropriate criterion for further study.

Research on C-19, social distancing and how it affects young people's health related to the closure of schools is a frequented discussed topic today. This applies not least to issues relating to mental ill health issues (see e.g., Viner et al., 2020). However, few studies have focused on psychosocial health factors related to school student's resilience and adaptive experiences from the spring 2020 school closure at NIU schools. Scientific documentation of this phenomenon offers several important opportunities for advice to NIU and related schools regarding recommendations aimed for further research.

About the project

The main purpose of the project is to investigate psychosocial factors that characterize NIU students who have handled everyday life in a developing way and experienced increased self-insight in relation to the C-19 situation. But also, key lessons that sport students have experienced six months and one year after the outbreak of the pandemic aimed to develop increased preparedness for future unexpected adversities. Based on Grounded Theory, an interview guide was developed to answer the stated purposes in the form of focus groups. Ten groups will be interviewed, consisting of 5–7 male and female team and individual student-athletes who have experienced C-19 with mostly favorable outcome. We will analyze the transcribed group interviews to study life situations and understand these in relation to time, place and context. Data collection is planned to fall 2020 and follow-up interviews spring 2021. Analysis and feedback to schools is expected to take place during autumn 2021 and publication of results 2022. In addition to the majority of studies focusing on mental and physical health problems related to C-19, increased knowledge about students' possession of resilience and positive experiences during the pandemic at NIU:s, can be used for developing well balanced action strategies for future and unexpected global and negative events at individual, group and societal level.

Project period:

  • 2021-01-01 to 2022-12-31


  • Centrum för idrottsforskning (CIF)


  • Sannarpsgymnasiet, Halmstad
  • Aspero Idrottsgymnasium, Halmstad