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Mental Health

Mental Health Page Graphic

A student-athlete’s mental health might generate less conversation compared to their physical health, but it is just as important. It makes little sense to try to separate the mind from the body. One affects the other. Medical problems often have psychological or emotional consequences. Psychological problems, which can include eating disorders and substance-related problems, typically have medical consequences. Student-athletes who suffer from depression after an injury illustrate the relationship between physical and mental health. At the same time, some depressed student-athletes are at increased risk of injury. Given the interrelationship between the physical and mental, it might be helpful to view student-athletes with mental health problems as injured in the same manner as student-athletes with physical or medical problems. As with physical injuries, mental health problems may affect athletic performance and limit, or even preclude, training and competition until successfully managed and treated.

College students, including athletes, may be at risk for mental health problems because:

  • Their age increases the risk for certain disorders, such as eating disorders or substance-related disorders
  • College is a time of transition and significant changes which can include the departure from home to attend college, transferring to different schools, the death of loved ones or the ending of important relationships. Psychological disorders often develop or worsen during transition periods
  • Some mental health problems can be triggered or exacerbated by pressure. While these pressures are often unrelated to sport participation, it can increase pressure for certain student-athletes

With the publication of a series of articles in 2004-2005, the NCAA's approach to mental health amongst student-athletes took on a renewed urgency. Some of these articles are reproduced here:

Last Updated: Jun 6, 2013