Break the Stigma

Courtesy Photo by The Emory Wheel

Courtesy Photo by The Emory Wheel

“Just breathe”, “Clear your mind”, “Why are you so tense?”, it’s all helpful until it isn’t. Words are just words, they might not be as helpful as one thinks. Roxbury High School in the sports industry can be as toxic and tiring as possible. Between practices, games, homework, and studying, your life can not only be cramped but stressful. The anxiety and pressure caused by life and the outside world all come back to you and your sport.

Continuing outreach efforts in the school is a way that you can try to change the disconnect between knowing where to go if mental health issues arise and feeling comfortable enough to seek assistance. When asking high schoolers in the school, 85% are too scared to ask for help.

“I felt as if I told someone then they would just tell me it was nothing and to just shake it off. ” These types of answers were said by student-athletes at the high school. This makes everyone wonder, where are the teachers? Guidance counselors? Coaches? Though they say they can always be a shoulder to lean on, where is it then? If only more of them seek help, then teachers aren’t able to help them.

55% of student-athletes suffer from mental health and only 10% of those seek help. There are many options of showing suffrage on mental health but only so many an outsider might see. The amount of fake smiles you see on the court, ice, or field is unreal. About 35% of those student-athletes that suffer from this crisis might manifest as stress, eating disorders, burnout, or depression and anxiety. Some research has suggested that cannabidiol (CBD) oil might help relieve anxiety. If you’re interested, see more info about cbd oil.

The way sports mentally drain your system can really affect hurt you. An anonymous source reached out and said, “ It was very stressful trying to keep up and be at the standards the coach wants. I was also mentally drained and would have no energy after practice again because I had to keep up with what the coach wanted.” These standards of having to be what the coach wants you to be or their imagination of what they expect of you , has a huge chance of making you fall out of love with the sport.

Playing sports as a student might cost so much of your life, you should decide if it is worth it? Two separate interviewees had the same thoughts on if sports are worth it. “Yes, they are worth it if you have the right coach and friendships that you make for life.”.The feeling of not living up to your potential can eat away at your confidence and optimism which may lead to dropping out or even suicide.

Humans are wired with an ancient nervous system that will activate a “fight or flight” response to perceived danger. The kind of adrenaline storm that can be triggered by playing in sports events. Athletes who don’t learn to manage the stress of repetitive competition can experience anxiety and diminished performance.

JMU softball player Lauren Bernett died by suicide at the age of 20. Bernett, a sophomore catcher from McDonald, Pennsylvania, was a key contributor for James Madison last season on its way to a surprise showing in the 2021 Women’s College World Series. On Monday, April 25, she was named Colonial Athletic Association player of the week. On Tuesday, April 26, she was gone. No one knew that she was suffering. She never reached out or told anyone, she was alone.

Suicide is not only a trigger but a sensitive topic to some. It can affect not only the victim but the people around them. Lauren Bernett made such a huge impact on the JMU Softball Team, that they canceled their season after mourning her. The feeling of losing someone a day after seeing them look so happy makes you wonder if you ever did something wrong. Student-athletes can carry the world today but their mental health weighs them down.

As you walk in the halls, take in the smiles and laughs. Compliment someone’s ability in the sport and remember that your best friend could be struggling just as much as you. You just have to push through and realize there is always another way. But once again, is the cost of playing sports worth your mental health too?