by Claire Garceau
With the fall sports season coming to a close, I think it’d be useful to shine a light on mental health in athletes. Mental health can be a struggle for everyone; not only athletes can experience these issues. Athletes have to balance these issues with rigorous training, practices, games, and most importantly, their school work. It’s important to realize that although athletes may be hard workers, and persevere, that doesn’t make them invincible. This article isn’t meant to say that sports are bad and you shouldn’t play them. Studies show that a good game can improve an athlete’s self-confidence. The purpose of this article is to warn athletes that mental health does matter and to serve as a reminder that you should check up on your friends.
A large percentage of students at HB participate in sports in or outside of school. When Oma Awga, a freshman who swims for Hathaway Brown, was asked, “Does a bad practice or a bad game affect your self-esteem?” She responded with, “Yes, it makes me feel like I’ve failed myself and my team, which is not great for my mental health, especially if I had a bad day beforehand.” When Oma was asked, “Do you ever find it hard to manage your school and sports life?” She answered, “Yes, swimmers usually have to get to school pretty early, around 6:00 AM to be specific, then we swim pretty late so I get home exhausted and then I have like an hour or more of homework per night to do before my family bible study.” Teens should be sleeping 8-10 hours per night according to the CDC. At this rate, getting up at 5:30 or earlier to go swimming at 6, then getting home and typically going to bed around 11:30, is not healthy. This is just one perspective of an HB athlete; everyone’s schedule is different and how they manage their time is different as well.
Many people face struggles outside of HB, some examples are Sarah Shulze, Katie Meyer, Jayden Hill, Robert Martin, and Lauren Bernettall who all died from suicide in March and April this year. These were all collegiate-level student-athletes. Their passing has served as a reminder that mental health does matter and you should check up on your friends even if they “seem fine”. Harry Miller, an Ohio State football player recently announced he has retired from collegiate level sports in order to prioritize his mental health. Some organizations and sites I find helpful are https://www.thehiddenopponent.org and https://www.youaremorethanthescore.com/the-blog. These websites have a lot of information and stories on how athletics can affect your mental health.
If you are struggling with mental health, please remember you are not alone, and there are many resources for support available for you, including the resources listed here: Reach out to Mrs. Biggar (firstname.lastname@example.org), our School Counselor – She is here to support you with any social-emotional issues you may be experiencing. Crisis Text Line: Visit www.crisistextline.org/ or Text “START” to 741-741. 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988 for free and confidential emotional support to people in crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help and remember to check up on your friends.