How does Mental Health Affect Athletes?

Dilara Vural, Staff Writer

          Lately, the importance of mental health has become widespread throughout the athletic community. It is very important to advocate this topic in the athlete world. There are many students at Oakton that go through struggles everyday and they are not thoroughly acknowledged. Sports should be something to look forward to and a way to decompress. With extensive amounts of pressure, the sport someone historically loves, can become toxic and unenjoyable. 

        Rhianen Eichelbaum, a sophomore at Oakton Highschool, runs cross country. Rhianen has been doing this sport for 8 years and says her mental health has been affected since the start. She says “it’s important to have the least amount of pressure for younger athletes that are new to the sport.”This is very important and should be highly focused on because when young athletes get introduced to a sport, they want to have fun doing it and be excited before every practice/ tournament. Athletes are not allowed to slack off and have off days which can lead to the athlete burning out and quitting the sport, even if they don’t want to.

        Aura Lewis, also a sophomore at Oakton, does crew, which is a team sport. She also says that athletes put a lot of pressure on themselves, due to the circumstances and it being a competitive environment. She mentions, “when it comes to teammates and coaches I feel like athletes put a lot of pressure on themselves.” According to most athletes it’s not the sport they do that causes the interest to go away, it’s the environment. If there is a toxic environment in the sport one plays, that’s definitely going to impact one’s gameplay whether that’s what’s intended or not. Athletes begin to play more scared and timid which decreases the level of play and they start feeling distraught. The conclusion to this problem is amazing athletes giving up on the one thing they love and the main thing they’ve practiced over and over again for. Furthermore, Aura says, “mental health in athletes is not talked about when it should be” “coaches should be more careful on what they say and so should teammates, there needs to be a more open communication on both ends”. 

photo credit: Maridav, from unsplash 

       Mental health for athletes should definitely be talked about more and be more widespread in conversations. It will make all athletes feel more safe and comfortable in environments and also have people to go to if something happens .