Student-Athletes and Mental Health

student-athleteStudent-Athletes and Mental Health Problems

Most of us have played a sport at some time or another throughout our life. They get us active, help us learn discipline, help us build friendships, and we fall in love with the game. This can be said especially for student-athletes, who are in one way or another all fighting for a chance to get a scholarship. But this road isn’t easy, with a lot of athletes going through an emotional roller coaster. This can be a strain on someone’s mental health and in some cases can cause mental illness. So how do we detect these things in our beloved student-athletes to avoid damage to their mental health?

Athlete Stereotypes

Athletes have often been thought of as tough, and any sign of weakness is the opposite of what they want to show. This can cause problems with athletes being unable to share the difficulties they are going through, leaving them with a feeling of loneliness and abandonment. They often feel like they can’t turn to anybody with their problems. Therefore, student-athletes also might not seek out help because they fear it might their involvement in sports. As stress, as well as the pressures of competing daily, begin to build up, they are likely to develop depression and anxiety.

The Emergence of Mental Health Issues

There are many reasons that can cause the emergence of these mental health issues. For one, when competing, athletes occasionally mess up, and they can have two choices: rise up or let it affect them. Some mistakes are harder to shake off, especially the big ones. In some cases, the coaches make the failure even worse. Oftentimes, coaches stress the importance of winning above all else. So when an athlete misses a game-winning point, it can seem devastating. Letting down teammates is also a large weight that athletes carry. In addition to the mental stress of the game, there are also the physical stresses. A season-ending or career-ending injury really has a huge impact on players. These reasons alone build up frustration, sadness, confusion, mood changes, withdrawals and more. Your biggest critic is yourself and that goes for athletes as well. With all of these variables happening around them, it’s very common for mental health issues to form.

If you are an athlete, its okay to open up about your problems. In the words of Mardy Fish, a professional tennis player, “to show weakness, we’re told, in so many words, is to deserve shame. But I am here to show weakness. And I am not ashamed.”

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