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A new focus on mental health in collegiate athletics


The recent spotlight on mental health at the NCAA Convention emphasized the growing recognition of this issue within college athletics.


College athletes face unique challenges that can impact their mental and physical well-being. It is essential to prioritize their holistic health to ensure they can perform at their best both on and off the field.


When we focus on athletes as human beings, not just athletic machines, we must recognize the importance of supporting the wellness of college athletes.


The Paradox of High-Level Sports

The world of high-level sports is a paradox, as it demands peak physical performance while also placing significant pressure on athletes. This pressure can have a profound impact on their mental well-being. College athletes juggle rigorous training schedules, academic responsibilities, and the expectations of their sport, making it crucial to prioritize their mental health.


Unique Challenges Faced by Student-Athletes

Student-athletes are more likely to experience extreme mental illness due to the pressures they face. The culture of college sports and the fear of seeking help can inhibit some student-athletes from addressing issues such as depressive symptoms, burnout, and stress. It is imperative to create a supportive environment that encourages care-seeking and resilience among student-athletes.


Promoting Mental Wellness

Athletics departments have a responsibility to create health-promoting environments that support the mental well-being and resilience of student-athletes. This can be achieved through education, telehealth support, and the development of a culture that prioritizes mental health care. By integrating mental wellness initiatives into college athletic programs, student-athletes can receive the support they need to thrive both in their sport and personal lives.


Reimagining Mental Health in College Athletics

As a sports medicine and education professional, I am grateful to see this focus on mental health and wellness in college athletic departments. I am especially excited to see that this movement is also gaining momentum and that experts and athletes are increasingly recognizing the importance of prioritizing mental well-being alongside physical performance.


By reimagining the approach to mental health in college athletics, institutions can better support the holistic wellness of their student-athletes. Prioritizing the wellness of college athletes, including their mental health, is essential for their overall success. By creating a supportive environment, providing access to mental health resources, and reimagining the approach to mental well-being in college athletics, institutions can ensure that student-athletes have the tools and support they need to thrive.


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