“Mental health is an invisible thing, but it touches all of us at some point or another. It’s part of life.” Kelvin Love
Athletes are commonly diagnosed with generalized stress disorder, but other more specialized stress illnesses are. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are some examples.
Athletes are not immune to mental health issues. According to sport psychology, being an athlete can be tremendously difficult on a person’s mental health, given the pressures to succeed in the game and the rest of their public life.
According to recent studies, 95% of male athletes and 85% of female athletes experience more stress than 52% of non-athlete.
Athletes report more stress in romantic relationships, more obligations, less sleep, and a more significant need for extracurricular activities.
According to research, mental health difficulties affect 5% to 35% of top athletes during a 12-month follow-up period.
Athletes That Struggle With Stress
Athletes are instructed to “push through,” and critics accuse them of lacking mental toughness when they don’t.
We now know that this attitude makes it difficult to treat mental health issues throughout one’s career and even later in life, thanks to public confessions by athletes like Steve Smith Sr., Imani Boyette, and Brandon Marshall.
It’s no wonder that today’s sporting culture contributes to the mental health stigma. Mental health issues go counter to the gladiator narrative that captivates millions of people daily.
Yet, the truth remains that one of every five individuals in the United States — 43.8 million people — has a mental health problem each year.
Mental illness makes no distinction depending on the situation; athletes are just as vulnerable as everyone else.
In NBC news Larry Sanders and Royce White discuss how sports culture adds to the stigma associated with mental illness.
Larry Sanders checked himself into Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, in February 2016 to protect his mental health and to lessen the harm he had caused to his friends and family.
Royce White, like Sanders, highlighted early experiences in his life as contributing to his anxiety but swiftly added that everyone is vulnerable to it. White was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when he joined the league. He requested assistance, but his pleas were ignored. White never played for the Houston Rockets and only appeared in three games with the Sacramento Kings during the 2013-14 regular season.
Kevin Love, the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers’ best basketball player, in a Player’s Tribune essay titled “Everyone Is Going Through Something,” Love talked about his decades-long battle with depression and anxiety. The article sparked a campaign to de-stigmatize mental illness among high-profile athletes. More individuals have approached him about mental health in basketball since then.
Next week 3 of 4 – Why athletes are reluctant to seek help and what we as parents, coaches, and professionals can do the support them.
If you are struggling with a mental health issue or need someone to talk to, Let’s Connect at drdcoffey.com/mentalhealth