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  • Writer's pictureDeja Rose

F. F.: Mental Health and Athletes

We are all humans and the only thing that sets us apart from one another is what we do on a daily basis. We encounter the same issues but may deal with them differently.

According to Smitha Bhandari, there are psychological and environmental factors that contribute to mental illnesses.

Some psychological factors include:

  • Severe psychological trauma suffered as a child, such as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse

  • An important early loss, such as the loss of a parent

  • Neglect

  • Poor ability to relate to others

Some environmental factors include stressors such as:

  • Death or divorce

  • A dysfunctional family life

  • Feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, or loneliness

  • Changing jobs or schools

  • Social or cultural expectations (For example, a society that associates beauty with thinness can be a factor in the development of eating disorders.)

  • Substance abuse by the person or the person's parents

Athletes use their sports that they participate in as an outlet and also a distraction from whatever real world issues they are facing or going through. These can be issues such as burnout and substance abuse to eating disorders, depression and anxiety.

In addition, Robin Kuik highlights how ”among professional athletes, data shows that up to 35% of elite athletes suffer from a mental health crisis which may manifest as stress, eating disorders, burnout, or depression and anxiety.”

According to Dr. Michelle Cleere, there are five most mentally challenging and stressful sports which include:

  1. Swimming. Ex. Micheal Phelps

  2. Gymnastics. Ex. - Simone Biles, Amy Raisman

  3. Tennis. Ex. - Naomi Osaka

  4. Golf. Ex. - Bubba Watson

  5. Baseball. Ex. Tom Alston

To add to this:

  1. Basketball. Ex. - Kyrie Irving

  2. Football. Ex. Brandon Marshall , Andrew Luck

Cleere further highlight a few reason why these sports are considered mentally challenging and stressful. Some reasons include how there’s no one else to rely on in individual sports and athletes also recognize the key moments that make or break their performance. A resulution for this issue is to “link up physical training with mental training.” This will help cope with and also get a better understanding of what is going on to really get to the bottom of their worries, fears, or doubts that trigger various stresses.

In today’s news, athletes such as Simone Biles, Micheal Phelps, Aly Raisman, Andrew Luck, Naomi Osaka, Kyrie Irving, Brandon Marshall, and many more are facing these same issues daily, but have used sports as a distraction for what they are going through in their personal life. These problems may change us but they are what makes us human. We’re able to constantly change our mindset and way of thinking based on what we’re going through no matter the circumstances.

For example, Simone Biles has pressed the issue of mental health through out her career.

According to Dr. Erin Grieb, Some tips to help athletes focus on mental health during these times (the pandemic) include:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. Some common feelings are isolation, fear, loss, disappointment, anxiety, frustration, sadness, lack of control, anger.

  2. Take care of your physical health. ...

  3. Stay Connected.

  4. Engage in Sport.

  5. Focus on what you can control.

To add to this, there are also some ways you can look after your mental health. According to the Mental Health Foundation, this includes:

  1. Talk about your feelings. Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled.

  2. Keep active.

  3. Eat well.

  4. Drink sensibly.

  5. Keep in touch.

  6. Ask for help.

  7. Take a break.

  8. Do something you're good at.

Read more & Sources

Causes of Mental Illness

Mental Health and Athletes

5 Ways Young Athletes Can Improve their Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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1 comentario

23 ago 2021

Thank you for providing such a wealth of information on this topic. Over the years, I have always seen an athlete as a human being first then, secondly, a swimming, gymnastics, or tennis champion. I was extremely elated when Simone Biles became one of the recent athletes to bring mental health issues among athletes to our attention. It's real.

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