I wanted to take a short couple of minutes to continue a discussion we started on the Inside the Athletic Mind podcast that has stuck with me throughout this past week.
As you may already know, the athletic world has experienced some incredible tragedies over the past month with the loss of 3 student-athletes to suicide. May is also mental health awareness month and I wanted to take this 5 or so minutes of your day that you’re dedicating to reading (or skimming) this newsletter to talk about something that is incredibly important and deserves our attention.
Now, perhaps more than ever, our performance is critical. We are measured more frequently, evaluated more harshly, and as a result, are under a lot of pressure to perform. I’m of course referring to student-athletes for the majority of this but I also want to acknowledge that this is the current situation in many corporate workplaces as well. We need to hit benchmarks. We need to have the grades. We need to be on top. This is what is conveyed to us on a daily basis at school.
Student-athletes currently exist in a world where they are required to perform both athletically and academically within the confines of an extremely packed schedule. Many struggle to navigate this strenuous balancing act and significant numbers have difficulty when it comes to adding taking care of their mental health to the laundry list of responsibilities they have. Furthermore, mental health is often not prioritized. Afterall, you need to be in class to stay eligible and you need to be at every practice or lift if you want to keep up. It’s really easy to get to the point where there simply isn’t enough time left in the day.
Athletes are hitting burnout, mental and physical exhaustion, and as coaches, support staff, friends, family, advisors we need to do a better job recognizing when that’s happening before we hit the point of critical mental health crisis. Of course, this is no easy task and sometimes it is impossible to tell when someone is suffering. But there are some things that we could all collectively to help. The first is to talk about it. Mental health in the world of elite athletes still holds a bit of a ‘taboo’ status–it shouldn’t. We’ve already seen great strides in this area but we’re far from finished. The second is to make sure that there is a support system in place for student-athletes seeking help. This means counseling services, performance coaches, and medical support.
We can no longer ignore the mental health crisis like we have in the past. It’s time to start stepping up for these student-athletes who give and sacrifice so much by demanding that the proper systems are in place to support them when needed.
– Coach Lauren