Student-Athletes’ Mental Health is Cause for Concern

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Amber Poquette, Contributor

“Put mental health first. If you don’t, then you’re not going to enjoy your sport and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want,” Simone Biles said.  Within the past few years, there have been a majority of studies done that show a rise in concern with student-athletes’ mental health. Student-athletes are facing a rise in anxiety, depression, and mental exhaustion. 

According to the NCAA student-athlete well-being studies, students are still facing a rise in anxiety, depression and mental exhaustion. There was a survey done when the Covid-19 Pandemic had just started and then another one a year later during the second year of the pandemic. During this time, 39% of women and 24% of men who endorsed “constantly” or “most every day” felt mentally exhausted. 49% of women who responded “agree” or strongly agree” and 36% of men said that their worries were academic related.  Based on this evidence, a large percentage of student-athletes reported that they are feeling mentally exhausted with school and sports and are having a hard time finding the balance. 

Sports are important for mental health. Participating in team sports focuses on teamwork, communication and involvement. This can be very good for boosting mental health as it is enjoyable, and you are around other people working together. An article from the WedMD website states, “Taking part in sports in a group has a greater impact on mental health than individual sports.”

While team sports may be good for one’s mental health, there have still been many surveys and studies done that prove the relation between student athletes and an increase in anxiety, depression and mental exhaustion.

Simone Biles is another example of a student-athlete who has struggled with mental health. Biles, an Olympic gymnast, and six-time Olympic medalist pulled out of the individual all-around competition and the team finals during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. “I’m still struggling with some things, it just sucks when you are fighting with your own head” Biles said to the New York Times. Even as an Olympic-level athlete, Biles still feels the stress to do her best. The environment at the Olympics is a very stressful place.

An article written by BFA’s Mercury explains the group Hope Happens Here at the school and Mary Brouillette, a teacher, coach, and the HHH advisor, said “[As an athlete] you’re told to suck it up, or you’re worried about playing time if you say I’m not feeling well today.” This is something that many student-athletes are told, and they accept it. From experience, I know that balancing academics and sports is very draining and difficult to do. I know many people who don’t know how to deal with it, and just keep it to themselves and not do anything about it.

Student-athletes are facing a rise in anxiety, depression, and mental exhaustion. Many student-athletes are struggling with mental health and need to be reminded that they are not alone and mental health should come first.