The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.

The Advocate

The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.

The Advocate

Student athletes struggle with mental health, too

When you look at athletes nowadays, what do you notice?

Athletes rely on what they accomplish on the field to dedicate their value in life. Allowing things such as playing time, the opinions of their coaches and teammates, and success on the field determine how much value they have in the world.

For student athletes, there are a lot of mental battles that can lead to health conditions affecting them on and off the field. The National Library of Medicine published a study earlier this year of student athletes’ mental health and found  22.3% of them were at risk of depression, 12.5% were at risk of anxiety and 8% suffered from low self-esteem. 

Student athletes deal with a lot, as they have to worry about getting their coaches’ attention, getting playing time, and earning their spot on the team. Once they get there, they have to worry about performing and getting a positive result. Some athletes have to worry about accomplishing things off the field and finding good time management.

Contra Costa men’s soccer players Angel Cardenas and Jonathan Campos discussed how being a student athlete has affected their mental health.

“Being a student athlete definitely comes with its struggles – the main one being time management,” Cardenas said. “Having to build a routine, whether it’s for your classes, studying, and work all into a time frame to get to training on time, and even doing little training sessions on the side, including personal life – all of this is just draining.” 

Cardenas continued, “Oftentimes, you won’t be able to find time for yourself and enjoy your own peace. I’m not so good with routines, nor have I ever stuck to a routine, so this was a challenge for me at times. That being said, it affected how I was mentally due to the anxiety of having to perform at my best at practices and if I didn’t have a good practice in my mind then it will take a toll on me for probably that night and the next day into training.” 

Being a student athlete is tough, as you have to figure out so much when it comes to life outside of sports because even though you spend most of your time on sports, you have to be responsible for things off the field. But if you focus so much on what’s off the field that can affect your performance on the field so you need to find a natural balance.

Cardenas’ season was very short due to a knee injury. According to contemporary pediatrics, “Any athlete who experiences a career-ending or season-ending injury is likely to feel significant loss and grief and develop depression, anxiety, or traumatic stress.”Being injured can bring a lot of mental damage as well as physical because athletes lose a lot of time from sports. Not knowing if they are ever going to be the same or how long it will take to go back onto the field is a tough transition. 

“Playing one game of the season and having to sit out the rest definitely made me very frustrated. I definitely experienced the five stages of grief after my injury, and knowing that I won’t be cleared (still not clear) made me depressed,” said Cardenas about his injury impacting his ability to play the season. 

Some of the main reasons why student athletes’ mental health is affected is the result of games. Most of the time, students will feel good about winning games because it feels good to win. Everybody loves winning, but what happens when games or the season isn’t going your way, it can really shift one’s perspective. 

Campos discussed how he believes that the turnout of games impacts him and the team.

“I think the results of games do take a toll on your mental health because if results aren’t going your way, that motivation and resilience starts to fade out, you feel like you’re not playing well and when you feel that way you may lose that extra push to put in some more effort in practice or getting that extra training session in,” Campos said. “Especially on a team, during times where the team isn’t getting results, you tend to see the players turning on each other and arguments begin to occur because everyone is annoyed and upset that they’re not able to get positive results from games.”

Results in a game can motivate players to do better. Sometimes, it can motivate them to hit the gym and push themselves to outwork everybody – it can really shift your mindset. Then there’s a negative side, where you turn on your teammates or coaches by blaming one another. 

“It sucks seeing your team lose, although it was sick to see those score lines I knew there was more work to do, meaning it was motivating,” Cardenas said.

Motivating one another is a really good way to improve your mental health, as well as having the support of your teammates, coaches, family and friends. Whether athletes have an injury, a bad start to the season or bad season in general, the support of your loved ones can go a long way. Motivation can come in many forms and it is important to stay motivated and consistent. 

Student athletes are not talked about enough. The mental status of athletes can affect so much more when they are off the field compared to on the field.

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