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Boosting Mental Health for Student Athletes

by Gab Billones


If you’re an athlete, being physically fit is indeed one if your innate abilities. For all the wrong reasons, no one can join any sport without passing the different tests pertaining to the physical capability of the aspiring athlete. With all those demands in the physical perspective, checking their mental health sometimes get neglected.

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But the issue we’re going to tackle is a specialized one because the kind of athletes that we’re going to talk about are students. This precisely means that after all of the sports events and activities, it all ends up on where they started – as a student. With that being said, the need to do well in their subjects or at least to pass is a must.

The need as well for them to cope up with their studies and their athletic responsibilities will indeed give them a fair amount of stress and might pose a threat to their mental health.

This aspect is where every student-athlete falls short. Well, no one could really blame them if they sometimes slack-off in class. But with all those rigorous and sweat-dripping trainings, surely their bodies are tired enough to listen to class. Sometimes, pre-event trainings cross over the schedules for assignments and exams. And as much as there are special excuses for student-athletes in attendance, the academic performance in exams is already a different story. The greater concern regarding this strained ability to optimize their academic performance in class is also on the demands of their parents and teachers who are all in the watchdog.

As reported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 30% of college-aged people have cases of having some type of mental difficulties. With that being said, there is also a 30% chance that they could belong to the student-athlete population and this must be taken care of as soon as possible.

There are a lot of reasons why this could happen to them. First, it is a known fact that most teens nowadays engage in partaking drugs. These cover all types of drugs including drugs induced to sustain energy levels for practices. All of these sorts could greatly damage their mental health. Another one is too much stress, eating disorders and gene-related mental problems. The problem with most of them is that these situations aren’t readily reported to the existing counselors due to fear that they might disappoint their coach or this might affect their performance. Another one is on fear that their counselors will never help them and would even suspend them from joining such sports activities.

With those reasons mentioned above, the need to watch for their mental health and to boost it must be properly considered. In connection with that, we have laid down a few information on how to cope up with cases like this.

For the coach and advisers:

  1. As a coach, you must be responsible for their mental health. You’re not only bounded to keeping their body healthy, but also their mind. Talk to them from time to time and analyze any signs of mental problems such as depression, being stressed out or any signs of having one. Acquire some good listening skills. But never try to treat them yourself if you’re not sure on what you’re dealing with because this might only get worse. Instead, refer to the next information.

  2. Refer them to a counselor. The coach must know that counselor are basically in there for cases like this. Refer these athletes to them because most of the time, these students will never think of that suggestion. Referring to a counselor would really help most especially that these student-athletes have high-demands for energy and time. If you can’t provide one, act as if you are their counselor. Be a friend to them and know their conditions i.e. how well they perform in class or if they’re still able to cope up with academic requirements and are not yet left behind.

  3. Build a strong foundation of trust. The reason why most student-athletes or students in general don’t approach the older ones for cases like academic problems is because they’re either ashamed to be academically struggling or they don’t want to get dismissed. Sometimes, varsities and sports clubs require minimum grade to be maintained to sustain membership. In order to address that gap, you need to build a trust between you and your student-athletes and keep whatever they share in confidentiality. This is an essential aspect of psychological matters.

With proper guidance from coaches and advisers, student-athletes are able to redirect their attention in maintaining balance between their sports and academic life.

For the student-athletes:

  1. Eat properly. This is one of the essentials of being an athlete. Don’t skip any meals as possible especially breakfast. Don’t think that you might disrupt your diet by making sure that what your eating is healthy. For this matter, learn the many options when it comes to food, not just those in the fast-food corner.

  2. Avoid any unhealthy substances. Peer pressure might drag you down into this but you must control yourself. Remember that you’re an athlete and these substances will indeed ruin your performance. Be responsible enough.

  3. Seek for help and pieces of advice. In some cases, if you won’t even show hint that you’re having an academic problem or even talk to your coach, surely enough they might not be able to help you. Don’t be afraid or ashamed if you’re already lagging behind in class or you’re having academic issues.

  4. Take mental-boosting supplements. There are a couple of mental-boosting supplements out there that aid you by supplying vitamins and minerals. By taking this, you can avoid stress problems and still have a time for academics.

  5. Ask for a tutor or remedial classes if necessary. We all know that time is one of the biggest problems when it comes to being an athlete. In most cases, regardless of how intelligent and well-balanced the student is, he still needs enough time to balance things out given the difficulty being raised in academics. This is the reason why follow-up tutorial classes are viable options because these can be done at home which will address the flexibility issues when it comes to the time of the athlete. Other than that, it also entitles you mental exercises at your own free will.

Boosting and maintaining a sound and healthy mind for these athletes involves the student, the coach and those who knew the students being more open to each other. Remember that not anything that concern sports rely only in physical strength.

Being a student-athlete indeed entails a lot of demands and academics is completely not immune from the affected areas because of the attention and time which have to be spared. But we have to understand that a student-athlete wouldn’t be one if he won’t fulfill his obligations as a student. It’s difficult to balance two things but it’s a part of the game.


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