Athletes and Mental Health

Part 2


Naomi Presler, Reporter

Mental health in sports has always been a center of conversation, but when Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka displayed mental health as a priority, it lit a fire that explored sports and mental health relationships. Both women left major sports events to prioritize their mental health and focus on themselves. 

As I am an athlete, I can say mental health is very important. When I read about these two fabulous women and their decisions, I did not feel alone. I want other student athletes and athletes to know we are not alone in this struggle. 

I interviewed two athletes. One from John Adams High School and one from Saint Joe High School. Their gender, names, and sport are to remain anonymous throughout the article. Their coaches’ gender, name, or sport they coach will also remain anonymous. Both student athletes are aware of the article. 

Both athletes had something in common when I asked about their relationships with their coaches. “Love/hate” and “neutral” were the words to describe their relationships, which were wonderful to hear. But both athletes have different views about their own respective sports.

The Saint Joe High School student mentioned favoritism and how “it is hard to think and know what to do with the knowledge that even my best efforts aren’t always going to get me to where I want to be position-wise.” Favoritism and perfection can take a toll on a student athlete’s psyche and create low-self esteem and create a stressful environment with a lot of pressure. The student said, “I feel less valued on the team.” This is only a few words to describe what they feel.

The Adams student had more to say on their mental health and sports relationship. Their sport is more on the physical side and requires a mind-set that is hard to comprehend. Even then, that does not stop mental health from taking priority. They said that, “The truth is it is draining, and it is a way of getting myself to be better but at times it feels like torture.” Their body and mind is pushed to the point where it start to feel like “torture”. This had a great impact on me, personally, because I would use this word myself. The body and mind are pushed to perform that when both have had enough, it feels like torture. A person’s energy runs low and it feels run down. 

Even  social life can be impacted by a sport and can increase mental health issues. The Adams athlete said, “I feel isolated during the season. Isolated to only talking to teammates and a select few other people. It is nice as the ones you are close with during the season seem to be a family in many ways.” Even though there is a sense of family amongst athletes,  the feeling of isolation during a certain sports season is not a welcome sign. Rather, it can feel scary and cause athletes to break down and feel alone. 

This article only scratches the surface of what a student athlete feels mentally. It is important that this is brought up more often. It is important to recognize that this is important too.  

The relationship between sports and mental health has always needed improvement, and this can start with recognizing the way it affects athletes, and providing sources, such as counseling.