The Mental Health Stigma in Sports

Mental health in sports has been a stigma since the beginning of time.  Athletes are told to be mentally tough and are seen as weak if they show any emotion.  Ten to fifteen percent of athletes experience psychological issues severe enough to warrant counseling. 

Why does mental health matter?  A lot of the time athletes have physical checkups, but not mental health checkups.  There are always conversations about an athlete if they have a sprained ankle or have a season ending injury, but the mental health portion of a human being is not taken as seriously. Kevin Love, an NBA player for the Cleveland Cavaliers struggles with mental health. People may assume that professional athletes have it all; they get paid millions, are on national television and are playing at the most elite level.  On the surface, a lot of people may think what is there to complain about? But there are a lot of underlying layers that people do not realize.

College athletes have a lot on their plate.  They have a full course load, while having to stay on top of their games and practices.  It is a lot to ask from students that are 18 to 22 years old, but somehow they are able to maintain it.  College athletes may not have as much public exposure as NBA athletes, but that does not make it any easier.  No one is immune to mental health, and college athletes have taken a stand to help end the stigma that surrounds sports. These athletes are letting people know that they struggle and explaining that it is okay to not be okay.

Mental health is a new topic talked about, especially in sports.  The beauty about it is that more athletes are stepping up and talking about their struggles, instead of being ashamed of what they are going through.  Talking about your personal struggles can be hard for anyone, but athletes who have a bigger platform feel that talking about their struggles may open up the doors for people struggling with mental health.   

Athletics need to have more psychologists on the sideline to help.  In my opinion, every team, no matter what level, needs to have a sports psychologist on the sideline.  The NCAA verified different steps to make mental health matter and implement it into their sports programs.  

Mental health is a confusing topic and needs to be talked about more.  Athletes are only able to perform at their best physically if their mental health is in check.  Athletes around the world, at the collegiate and professional level have attempted to break the stigma by talking about their struggles throughout their life and athletics.  It’s important to know as an athlete that it’s okay to not be okay and it is key to prioritize your mental health as much as your physical health. Follow me on Twitter as I will post all of my blog feed on my account.

Your mental health should be
Photo from creativecommons.org

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