Mental Health? I'm perfectly healthy!
As an adolescent, you are currently going through the most physically transformative process of your life. Yes, physically you are getting stronger, faster, more intelligent with each passing year; however, there are changes happening within the chemical makeup of your brain as well.
Okay, and...? There's nothing wrong in that area either. Plus, I don't have the time to worry about that now anyway.
That is what I was looking for, the stock response that teenage adolescents have been giving to their parents, friends, coaches, principals, and counselors for decades.
In that response is the most crucial aspect of dealing positively with your own mental well-being... you don't have the time! As a student-athlete in today's society, you are constantly bombarded with requests, expectations, success, social media, peer pressure, etc. These factors act as stressors to your brain, hormones, emotions and build up with each successive year. If you can't recognize the signs and symptoms of a mental health problem, how can you know that you need help?
Friendships and Social Interactions
As a high school student, you undoubtedly have friendships and relationships that are very important to you. Finding the time and effort to maintain these connections is important, but can sometimes be emotionally draining.
Putting the "Student" in Student-Athlete
Without question the most important aspect of being student-athlete is that academics take priority over any athletic endeavors. To even be eligible to participate in athletics there are varying academic requirements you must maintain. Daily attendance, reading, quizzes, tests, essays, homework and preparation for EOC's all utilize a vast majority of your time and effort.
In addition to maintaining your coursework, you face pressure from your parents, peers, and possibly coaches who are looking for you go "above and beyond" to excel in the classroom. Balancing your school work and pressure to succeed is definitely an emotional factor and could have an impact on your mental state.
Practice Makes Perfect...Did I Say Perfect, I Mean Tired...So Tired...
Whew, finally done with school for the day. Now I can go home and...ugh, completely forgot about PRACTICE! Student-athletes typically love the camaraderie of their teammates and adrenaline that comes with competitions. In reality, practices can makeup approximately 55% - 82% of the sports season (depending on the sport). This isn't even including weight room sessions, skill development workouts, summer camps, etc. that may be planned as well.
I'll Just Sleep Tomorrow
You've finally gotten home from practice, taken a shower, and all you want to do is rest, eat dinner, and go to bed. Then it hits you that your 5-page paper on the Louisiana Purchase is due tomorrow in 1st Period; you have test in Statistics in 3rd Period; and since you have an away game, you must miss 4th Period, but not before you turn in your spanish verb conjugation sheet. You may think to yourself, how am I ever going to get this done? I have way too much to do! Who needs sleep anyway?!
Mental Illness: A diagnosable illness that affects a person’s thinking, emotional state and behavior. Disrupts the person’s ability to work, attend school, carry out daily activities, and/or engage in satisfying relationships
Mental illness can manifest itself in multiple ways:
- Internal Thoughts and Urges
- Frequent Crying
- Social Withdrawal
- Use of Drugs/Alcohol
- Excessive Irritability/Mood Swings
- Prolonged Feelings of Hopeless, Helpless, or Sadness
- Blunted Emotions
- Change in Sleeping/Eating Habits
- Talking or Writing About Death
- Sloppy or Unkempt Appearance
- Poor Hygiene
- Gastrointestinal Issues
- Frequent and Unexplained Physical Ailments
- Unexplained Cuts or Burns
- Abnormal Weight Loss
Internal Thoughts and Urges
- All or None Thinking
- Thoughts of Suicide
Contributing Internal Stressors
- Different Backgrounds/Cultures
- Perfectionist /Obsessive
- Performance anxiety/stress
- Overwhelmed (Social, Academic, Athletic)
- Body Image concerns
Contributing External Stressors/Factors
- Medical Concerns - Injuries, Concussions, Constant Pain
- Pressure from adults/peers
- Lack of family support
- Sudden End of Career - Injuries or eligibility
Perceived Aversions to Reaching Out for Help
- Social stigma
- Fear of embarrassment or shame
- No ability to positively communicate with their parents
- Availability or access to providers
ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES (ACES)
The hard truth
Sometimes it may seem as if you are alone...depressed...anxious...overwhelmed...the only person in the world dealing with these feelings
If you don't reach out to someone, these feelings can build until you feel you have no direction or purpose
It is plausible that you have felt this hopeless and even contemplating taking your own life
Over 31.5% of your peers surveyed across the United States have indicated these same feelings of hopelessness
17.2% even seriously considered attempting suicide
7.4% made a legitimate attempt to end their life
You have family, friends, coaches, athletic directors, school administrators, and many more who are here for you
You can always let one of the people in your life know that you are not feeling quite like yourself
We were each high school students and student-athletes and completely understand what you are going through and are willing and able to help whenever you need us
You have taken a very important step in your mental well-being by taking the time to view this presentation, let this serve as a springboard to next step of talking with someone about how you feel
It is important to know that you are loved. There are people in your life that love and care for you unconditionally
Sometimes telling someone that you love them is difficult. Those 3 words are powerful enough to save lives and everyone is entitled to hear those words sincerly meant for them.
We Love You!
...and there are plenty of other people out there that love and care for you as well...
Created with images by Cmon - "Umkleide Schränke" • michaeljung - "smiling african college boy"