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College Athletes Face Mental Health Crisis

A Look Into the Mental Health of Athletes

Becoming a collegiate athlete offers many benefits like physical fitness and honing one’s skills, but with those benefits also comes excruciating demands and challenges that greatly impact an athlete’s mental health.


Collegiate athletes face challenges in maintaining their mental health every day. Due to the high demands of their programs, they deal with overwhelming expectations to work harder, play better, and maintain good grades while trying to coordinate their rigorous athletic and academic schedules. If they have a job, they have to find time for that as well. This article dives into the impact of these factors on the mental health of collegiate athletes.


The demanding schedules of collegiate athletes usually include morning practices, morning workouts, afternoon practices, games, and tournaments, at the very least. Athletes must not only meet these grueling challenges, but also work around them to find time for studying and socializing. Inevitably, athletes battle fatigue and chronic stress; often, these trigger anxiety due to fears of underperformance and subsequent burnout. Many times, this snowballs into depression. 


Athletes face an intense amount of pressure to succeed, both in sports and academics. This pressure is placed upon them not only by the schools, coaches, peers, and parents, but also by themselves. They are wracked with feelings of self-doubt and isolation if their performance suffers. Athletes may strive for a goal with all of their might but feel no sense of accomplishment based upon effort; all that matters is achievement.  They become discouraged, perceiving their goals as too difficult and themselves as failures.


I interviewed two of the girls on Blue Mountain Christian University’s Soccer Team as well as the Coach. Both of the girls valued mental health. One stated, “Mental health is important and a lot ties into it. It’s very difficult to maintain the expectations and keep good mental health.” Coach Lauren Lear stated, “My athletes’ mental health is extremely important. Most outsiders think that college athletes are so lucky because they get to play their sport in college, but in reality, they know nothing about the mental exhaustion that comes with it.”


Many college students also get a job to support themselves financially and make a little extra money to spend on themselves. This additional responsibility exacerbates the fatigue, stress, and burnout already mentioned, causing students to become even less motivated. I can speak from personal experience that juggling a sport, my classes and a job often causes me to stretch myself thin.


In conclusion, the mental health of college athletes is critical. It is definitely something we need to observe and to improve. The rigorous schedule, the difficulty of time management, and the demanding expectations put upon them can all be devastating to mental health. This is something that coaches, faculty, parents, peers, and anyone interacting with the athletes should consider in order to ensure that athletes are getting the best treatment possible. We want athletes at the top of their game both physically and mentally. 


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