Karl L. Moore
Mental Health is something that has come to the forefront of conversation in the past few years. Depression and anxiety are beginning to be taken more seriously as more and more people are coming out and expressing their issues. Mental health issues impact a large number of people, especially athletes, because they are the ones who you would least expect to hear about experiencing these problems. The popularity that comes with being good at sports may seem like there would be no reason for us athletes to be depressed, but that usually isn’t the case. It is best not to assume how we are feeling because everyone’s situation is different.
More and more NBA players have recently revealed their issues with depression and anxiety, sparking a big conversation that has made its way into college athletics. For those athletes who may not experience these mental issues, here is some advice as to how you can help your teammates who may be struggling.
To start, just simply asking the question “are you okay?” is a great first step towards helping your teammate. The question has to be genuine. You have to ask this question with the intent to actually want to know what is going on. From there it all comes down to listening to what your teammate has to say.
If it does come out that one of your teammates is having issues with depression and anxiety, offering your personal advice may not be the right choice, especially if you aren’t dealing with those same issues. The stress of practices and games, while also having to balance school may take more of a toll on them than it does on you. More often than not, just being able to listen and empathize goes a long way and probably helps the situation more. They aren’t telling you these things like a client talking to a therapist, this is just friend talking to a friend. Being able to understand what is going on makes your teammate feel less alienated from his or her peers, and something like that can drastically change how they go about their life.
Athletes are some of the least talked about groups in terms of mental health in America. However, if more teammates started asking the simple question of “are you okay?,” these athletes can be more open to getting help and get rid of the stigma surrounding them.