In the past year, there has been a rise in the number of college athletes who have taken their lives. As a mental Health Therapist for young adults in Atlanta, I know that anxiety and depression are among the common mental health illness, but disordered eating, burnout, ADHD, are among a few other mental health issues that young individuals can be suffering with. 

We also have to consider the lasting effects of the coronovirus pandemic on the mental health of many people.  Yes, that is STILL influencing people mentally. When we look at it closely from a student-athlete perspective, we can see that that the stress of a pandemic and the stress of being an athlete has increased the levels of pressure and subsequent mental health issues in these students. 

As a Mental Health Therapist in Atlanta and a former student-athlete myself, my goal is to raise more awareness about these issues and offer some support.

Are athletes more susceptible to mental health issues?

When you think about athletes, there is this belief that they are tough, thrive under pressure, and all the accolades and celebration are bound to make anyone happy. But could this ideal be covering up something more? As a Mental Health Therapist in Atlanta for young adults, I believe it does. I think that since sports have been around, mental health issues have been stigmatized, covered up, and pushed aside in the name of being tough, or having grit. This has created a lot of pressure to ensure success, performance, and no sign of weakness. The cost? The mental health and even the lives of our young athletes.

It’s time for change

While there can be a lot of concerns with social media use compounding the effects of mental health issues, one of the potential benefits is the ability to reach more people, particularly student-athletes with helpful accounts that highlight the importance of seeking mental health support. In addition, I have seen more recent headlines and articles that are centered around speaking up about mental health and how important it is for athletes to know their resources. This is a great start to the conversation, but we need to do more. 

We are seeing so many student-athletes wait until the pressure or their mental health issues get so big, that they need to take breaks from something they usually love. We see their anxiety and depression and other mental health issues affecting their schooling and relationships. But that’s not going to be helpful in the long run. Having student-athletes walk away from something they used to love is not the solution here.  We need to create a culture of support around our student-athletes. We need to de-stigmatize mental health counseling and break down the stereotypes that athletes must always remain tough, never show ‘weakness’, and their identity and value are based on their performance. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from the pressure of being a high achiever, please contact an Atlanta Buckhead Counselor today.