End the stigma of athletes and mental health


Maddie Holly

Graphic showing the different things athletes balance. This can be overwhelming for many athletes.

Katie Meyer, Robert Martin, Sarah Shulze, Lauren Bernett, and Jayden Hill. These are five college athletes who have passed away from March to May. In a short span of three months, five well-respected collegiate athletes have taken their lives.

Unfortunately, many athletes of all ages struggle with mental health issues. This could be from pressure to perform, being too hard on yourself, or underlying struggles. Where they get their mental struggles varies from athlete to athlete, but there are limited resources and outlets for them to talk about how they are feeling and receive advice or help.

Athletes attempt to push their mental health to the side and focus on their sports. They take on more classes and workouts to hide the mental struggles they are facing. Collegiate athletes have grueling schedules of bouncing back and forth from weights, class, practice, games, and traveling. They simply don’t have the access or time to see a psychologist. 

A shocking statistic by Athletes for Hope is that 33% of college students face mental health issues, out of that 33%, 30% receive help. This is not the case for athletes. Among collegiate athletes with mental health issues, only 10% receive help. 

Sports are supposed to be fun. They are supposed to be something that you look forward to, something that is always there for you, and how it can be a getaway from the problems you may face in the world. What do you do when the sport you loved starts becoming a problem and not the fun and almost therapeutic environment it once was? 

Athletes have people of all ages looking up to them as role models and somebody who they strive to be like. When this is the case, they have to force themselves to put a smile on their face and act like everything is okay. They discredit their own mental health for the sport and the well-being of others. They push through mental and physical struggles in hopes that they achieve their goals so it will be “worth it”. 

“Walk it off”, “Tough it out”, “Suck it up”, and “No pain, no gain”. With cliches like these, it’s no wonder these athletes push themselves beyond their limits. You can’t simply ignore pain and anxiety in hopes it will eventually go away if you just “tough it out”. 

Athletes today often don’t talk about their mental health nor receive help because they can feel like they are letting people down. They don’t want people to see them as weak. This feeling and other stressors can pile on and buildup inside your brain. 

While mental health problems may not affect all athletes, there should be more resources offered for those who do so they can continue playing the sport they love and continue to end the stigma of not advocating for themselves and their mental health.