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Mental Health of Student Athletes

Stephanie Obenour
Cianna Miranda (11) and her varsity field hockey team score a major victory over Del Mar

Student-athletes are conquerors whether they’re on the field, on the courts, or in the classroom. With that being said, what is the state of their minds, and what about their mental health? Diving deep into the details and hidden challenges that come with mental health, discovered, are the hardships as well as the unique pressures of balancing sports and academics. Examined are the frequently disregarded mental health issues that student-athletes endure, as well as possible remedies and suggestions for “quick fix”.

A student’s energy level, mental capacity, focus, and reliability can all be impacted by mental health whether they realize it or not. This ultimately can interfere with overall performance and attitude. The two most important things a student needs are a good state of mind, and when needed, someone to guide them or simply be there. These aspects are crucial to success and when not achieved, many things are impacted. The main thing is mental health. School on its own is one of the top causes of struggling mental health. “Academic performance and relationship issues are just two of the many factors that can take a mental, emotional, and physical toll on teenagers’ minds and bodies,” says Maddison Little from Embark Behavioral Health.

Student-athletes are often under pressure, having to be able to balance their academic studies with their sporting commitments, and it’s not always easy. Finding a balance between athletics and study can be challenging. Balanced students do well in both academics and athletics. Many students are majorly affected by the pressure that comes along with being a student-athlete.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself because when I was younger, my softball coaches put a lot of pressure on me so now there is so much pressure for me to be good and perfect,” Cianna Miranda (11) says. Student-athletes not only bear the burden of their academic obligations but also a great amount of pressure when dealing with sports.

According to the National Library of Medicine, in 2023 statistics show that a majority of 91% of student-athletes experience some sort of mental stress due to their sports and academics.

Not only seen in statistics read from articles, but this fact has also seen a head when student-athletes at our own Willow Glen High School were interviewed and expressed the issues that 91% of students all over the world did too. “I often feel stressed about school and I feel like I never have time,” said Emmalee Fredrick (10) after being asked about her feelings throughout the week, “it’s exhausting sometimes having to balance out school and sports.” It’s important to have time management when pushing yourself and balancing these two things.

A huge factor that affects student-athletes is the amount, and overall lack of sleep they get each night. Most students noted that they get, at most, 6 to 7 1 ⁄ 2 hours of sleep each night when the average amount of sleep needed is 9 hours. The students claim that the cause of their lack of sleep is the fault of school and sports. Due to later practices or games, many athletes arrive home later, which leads to staying up to complete school work, ultimately affecting their sleep. As well as the general pressure and strain of sports.

Although proper sleep is key, having a positive mindset and good mental health is just as important. Negative thoughts and self-doubt are especially common in young student-athletes. Although easier said than done, it is best to try and believe in yourself and remind your self your position is just temporary. Having an understanding of your thoughts and position as a student-athlete can help to improve performance, mindset, and ability to think better overall. “Sports in general are heavily based on confidence and mental health totally alters your confidence. If you feel great, then you’re going to subconsciously have more confidence and increase your performances,” says Reid Ahlbrand (12), who is very passionate about soccer and his future goals, “believe in yourself and don’t let others get to you.” This is a message that all student-athletes should hear.

Overall, mental health in student-athletes is one of the most important things for teens and college students alike. Whether a student is simply trying to find a way to overcome their stress and hardships, or a concerned parent is hoping to further understand their child’s emotions, educating people on the struggles of mental health in student-athletes is a great eye opener to a better understanding of students in general. Not only that, but the more information and research that is done on student-athletes and their mental health can help them better their mindset and accomplish their goals. The first step in improving mental health is understanding why and how, and through this we can try to help every struggling student in improving many aspects of their life!

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About the Contributor
Nancy Phan
Nancy Phan, Wellness Writer

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