College, Sports, and Mental Health Challenges

Written by Alejandro Perez, Data Analyst

College athletes are expected to perform to the best of their abilities through rigorous training in order to win at all cost. Coaches and parents apply higher pressures on them to ensure that they are at their peak on game day. Compile that with having to maintain good grades, work a steady job, spend time with family, and the want to have a social life can lead to many issues. We often forget that they are human beings and that playing sports does not make them immune to mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety.


Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. Athletes can be affected by this through a combination of biological, psychological, and social sources of distress. Although exercising has proven to be an effective form of battling depression, too much of it can have a negative effect. Athletes that exercise compulsively to the point of complete exhaustion have experienced trouble sleeping, irritability, and difficulty concentrating in academics. Anxiety is another mental health issue that plagues college athletes which can be caused by the constant fear of not competing to the best of their ability. In some cases, even a minor injury to an athlete that impedes them from performing turned out to be a stressful and worrisome situation. However, there are ways to cope with these mental challenges.


There are small steps that can help a college athlete’s mental health. Talking with family, teammates, coaches and support staff or someone whom they feel comfortable sharing their story with. A therapist could also help identify sources of stress and help develop a self-care plan to manage symptoms. There are also activities such as meditation or practicing yoga that may help with managing the stressors of a college athlete. It is important to always acknowledge and seek out any resources necessary for a better future. Here at CBHS, we can help connect individuals to behavioral health services and supports that can help remove road blocks to functioning at maximum capacity and assist people on their road to recovery.


Sources: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-truth-about-exercise-addiction/201601/college-athletes-may-be-more-depressed-you-think

http://www.ncaa.org/sport-science-institute/mind-body-and-sport-depression-and-anxiety-prevalence-student-athletes

http://www.athletesforhope.org/2019/05/mental-health-and-athletes/

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