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Mental Health in Student Athletes

Posted by Alexandra Van Rijn on

Written by Kenzie Keir 

Being an athlete teaches you to push through the physical discomfort you feel.

When it gets to be too much you find something extra to keep pushing. Having this mentality allows athletes to reach their full potential however it doesn’t translate to mental wellbeing. Yet over my years in university I have seen so many student athletes struggle with mental illness, that are too afraid to say anything to teammates or coaches for fear of being seen as something every student athlete fears...weak.

 

You can’t see depression like you can see a broken bone.

You can’t touch anxiety like you can touch a sprained ankle. Just because you can't see the illness unfortunately it makes it easier to pretend it isn't there. However it is there, and it is extremely real. In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem. That being said, a large portion of my team would be experiencing mental health or addiction problems. That is extremely alarming and something that needs to be openly discussed more frequently.

 

When an athlete gets injured during a practice or game, they are sent to the training room or pulled off the field.

The injury is assessed immediately; they are given treatment or sent on their way with a rehabilitation program. Maybe they’re sent to the doctor or even pulled from practice if the injury is serious enough. But what happens when you can’t see the injury? What happens when a student athlete has a difficult time getting out of bed in the morning, or suffers from severe anxiety? Most of the time, they keep playing; they keep competing, feeling more and more isolated.

 

If you are worried about someone, tell them.

If you are worried about yourself, tell someone. When you ask someone how they are, really listen. It's time to end the stigma surrounding mental health in student athletes. It's time to stop pretending this issue doesn't exist and to educate each other. It's time to start putting yourself first, and treat your mental health like you would a torn ligament.

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