Mental Health Tolls on Student-Athletes


©The Talon News | Cate Clark

Junior Regan Dillon and Senior Presley Allen commiserate over their region semi-final loss to Iowa Park at the Bowie Jackrabbit’s Softball Field in Bowie, Texas on May 28, 2022. The Bowie Jackrabbits defeated the Lady Eagles with a final score of 10-4.

Cate Clark, Go-Photo Manager

Mental health has become a very prevalent issue for this generation with 38% of women athletes and 22% of men athletes struggling with either depression, anxiety, or mental health conditions according to the NCAA. Schools are becoming more aware of this and its toll on student-athletes. The effects of mental health are so prevalent and majorly reflect performance in the field, classroom, and personal life.

The involvement of sports on top of an individual’s education is too demanding on one’s mental well-being. 

The demanding workload given to athletes causes an increase in students’ anxiety. The amount of school work given to a student not involved in athletics is already a great responsibility on top of managing their own schedule. During their sports season, their practices are very taxing and the sports schedule can become excessive. Since there is a lot of preparation involved going into each game and pre-season, the coaches have high expectations for the athletes. High school athletes have a reported time of ten to twelve hours of time spent practicing per week as reported by Skyd Magazine. The number of games ranges from one to two a week taking into account that some are also away games. The time missed in class leads to anxious athletes who reflect on their performance on the field or court.  After including all of these factors, athletes can create bad habits such as procrastination and struggle with depression and anxiety.

For high school athletes, the process of being scouted by colleges is very overwhelming. On top of their day-to-day routine of classes, homework, studying, games, and practices, they are also having to manage their time meeting with college recruits. The idea of obtaining a scholarship may seem unimaginable to most. Some athletes may not receive guidance from authorities and have to take responsibility into their own hands to reach out to their desired universities. The amount of pressure put on young high school athletes becomes unbearable. Separating your college recruiting process and life on the field or court is a skill that needs more assistance.   

A student athlete’s mental health will be negatively affected by injuries. The majority of athletes put their appearance on a pedestal whether that’s their performance on the field or court or their impression made on others. When one gets injured and becomes ineligible to play, it can make their world turn upside down. Their self-worth starts to decline and they feel a sense of guilt for letting people down. The athletes take pride in their hard work and execution in their sport, so a roadblock is the last thing needed on the route to bettering their mental health. The method of healing after such a tragic experience requires a lot of physical therapy and mental preparation. 

If the schools would like to see students have an incline in their mental well-being, a demanding schedule is not the way to go. Putting an excessive amount of pressure on athletes will only lead to failure and corruption. The harmful habits that will be instilled in them and the mental health struggles caused will affect them for the rest of their life. Instead of this route to a negative lifestyle, schools need to instill a more effective therapy program. It should become mandatory that every student-athlete attends one sit-down meeting with a counselor a week.