Athletes have long dealt with mental health issues along with physical health injuries. However, due to societal pressures, athletes have been conditioned not to speak out about these mental troubles.
We hear phrases like “be a team player’, “push through the pain” and “blood, sweat and tears.” Coaches and parents are trying to motivate athletes, but sometimes the athlete only hears the pressure and desire to win at all costs.
Recently professional athletes have taken a stand regarding their mental health. Olympic gymnast, Simone Biles, withdrew from the All-Around Finals during the Tokyo Olympic Games because of a mental health issue. Tennis star, Naomi Osaka, withdrew from the French Open to tend to her mental health.
These athletes and many more are challenging the idea that they have to be perfect in mind and body at all times. Naomi has said she faced “long bouts of depression” since winning the United States Open in 2018. Simone has been open about the pressure she feels from the entire country when she competes.
In the age of social media, athletes are not only receiving pressure during press conferences and in interviews. They are also constantly barraged with comments on social media. If they post about a party or family event, they receive comments asking why they aren’t training. It seems like viewers expect an athlete’s entire universe to be their sport forgetting that athletes are people too with families, hobbies and other responsibilities.
Middle and High School Student Athletes
Thanks to these professional athletes speaking out about mental health, conversations are becoming easier for middle and high school athletes to begin. These students are under tremendous pressure to perform in the classroom and on the field. They are given no extra time in the day to complete homework AND practice. Coaches, parents and the community pressure athletes to be the best. The whole town turns out for the Friday night football game. The spectators are there to support the student-athletes. However, the teenagers feel a great weight on their shoulders to win not just for themselves and their team, but for the entire city!
Mental Health Support
The most important message to get across to student athletes suffering from mental health issues is that you are not alone. Many student athletes deal with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health struggles. Speak to someone like a counselor, parent, trusted adult, or fellow teammate.
Adults who are supporting a student-athlete should be aware of the signs. A student athlete who is experiencing mental health difficulties might have constant fatigue, loss of appetite, mood swings, inexplicable under-performance, apathy, decline in grades and/or social isolation.
A student-athlete’s mental health can be severely affected by an injury. An athlete’s entire life becomes about their sport and when they lose the ability to play it can take a toll mentally.
As we continue to reduce the stigma around mental health, hopefully more middle and high school level student athletes will feel confident discussing their health whether it be mental or physical.
The 3RIPLE 3HREAT podcast will be adding a psychology aspect in Season 02. We will be doing our part to help de-stigmatize mental health when it comes to student athletes. Subscribe on your favorite podcast listening platform so you never miss an episode!
A student-athlete can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Jermel President, a long time student-athlete activist and founder of the DAE Foundation, shares his experiences with guests supporting the topics of Community, Sports and Education. If you are a parent of a student-athlete or currently a student-athlete and passionate about getting to the next level, this podcast is for you!
Our DAE Foundation message is to bring quality information to student-athletes, parents of student-athletes and the community that supports them both. There is a wealth of knowledge being shared in our interviews with stories from former collegiate players, professional athletes, collegiate coaches, sports agents and more.
We are live on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon, Pandora & Stitcher.
Listen, Subscribe and Leave a Review! Thanks for your support!