Do Student Athletes Experience Mental Health Challenges?
While student athletes are known for their physique and physical performance, playing competitive sports also requires mental strength and determination. When someone is injured on the field, they take a break to recover. However, athletes experiencing mental health conditions aren’t given the same accommodations. It’s important for everyone to seek the anxiety and depression treatments they need, so review this guide to learn how student athletes deal with their mental health.
How Do Competitive Sports Affect Mental Health?
Student athletes are expected to perform at their best at all times. They attend daily practice sessions, eat restrictive diets, and travel for competitions. On top of their academic workload, these responsibilities can quickly lead to burnout and isolation.
Also, the constant pressure to succeed can contribute to stress. Competitive games can be extremely tense, and many athletes feel like they need to perform perfectly to avoid letting their teammates and supporters down. Since most athletes also train during the off-season, they aren’t given time to relax and take care of their mental well-being.
All of these factors can contribute to depression and anxiety, as well as disordered eating and substance-related disorders. Also, athletes tend to be less vocal about their struggles. While one-third of students with mental health conditions seek help, only 10% of college athletes do. This likely relates to the constant pressure to perform, and many athletes will ignore the symptoms of depression or anxiety to focus on their sport.
How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Impacted Student Athletes
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional challenges to student athletes. In early 2020, they experienced sleep difficulties and feelings of loneliness, sadness, and loss due to the sudden changes occurring worldwide. Social distancing guidelines and facility closures contributed to financial worries, academic struggles, and health concerns. Many athletes were also unable to train or practice during the early stages of the pandemic.
However, as people spend more time inside, they’re able to reflect and reorganize their priorities. For athletes, the pandemic provided a necessary break that allowed them to address their mental health concerns. Within the last month, the number of student athletes who have reached out is 1.5 to 2 times more than before the pandemic.
As more people get vaccinated and the world slowly returns to normal, mental health professionals hope that athletes will continue to prioritize their well-being by seeking anxiety and depression treatments. Not only will this make college students happier and healthier, but it will also boost their performance and reinvigorate their passion for their sport.
If you need anxiety or depression treatment, contact PTI, the preferred provider of Louisiana State University athletes. Based in Baton Rouge, LA, this mental health organization offers telepsychiatry appointments and medication management services for people with depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. They’ll ensure you receive the help you need, whether you live on campus or study remotely. Call (225) 751-5412 to schedule a psychiatry appointment, or visit the website to learn more about their online network.