Student-Athletes Mental Health: A Comprehensive Overview

Great photos that show the struggle of mental health when playing sports. Photo made by Sophia Walker, sports photographer.
Great photos that show the struggle of mental health when playing sports. Photo made by Sophia Walker, sports photographer.
Sophia Walker

The mental health of student athletes is a topic that should not be ignored or overlooked. In 2021, in the United States, 42% of high school students suffered from constant sadness and hopelessness. And 15.6%-33.2% of student-athletes suffer from being at risk of depression.

Why are they among one of the largest groups facing depression? Let’s find out.

With the school year just starting, students are now busier than ever, but more so, athletes. They spend hours upon hours working to get better at their sport but also balancing that with their school work and overall health and well-being. They are amongst one of the most common groups to experience poor mental health.

Brandon Wright, for example, is a 12th-grade student at Golden Valley High School who is also on the school’s baseball team. Brandon Wright said, “I am taking 4 total classes this year but 3 of them are either an AP or honors course.”. He also acknowledges that he spends around 2-3 hours a day doing some kind of school work (studying, homework, etc.) and approximately 1 hour to an hour and a half per day outside of practices at places like the gym or at a private coach. Research shows that 2 hours or more of homework a day proves detrimental to mental health and overall balance. It is safe to say that excessive work can be a factor for depression in athletes.

There are other factors in the cause of depression such as lack of rest. When asked how much personal time he has a day, he responded with, “I try for around 1 hour a day.” Research about personal time done by psych central shows that not having enough alone time can contribute to the deterioration of one’s mental as well as their physical state.

The Golden Valley baseball team has practice from 2:00-5:30. So adding that on top of his other work, his typical day ends around 9:30 to 10:00, leaving him with just around an hour left since he says he goes to sleep around 11 o’clock and wakes up around 6 o’clock. Research done by the CDC showed that ages 13-18 require on average 8-10 hours of sleep, while he is only getting 7 hours. His days last around 17 hours of constant work with only small breaks in-between. He does not get much rest on an average day and it proves to be a factor for affecting him mentally.

Brandon Wright says, “I easily find myself having feelings of sadness about 4 to 5 times per week.” He claims that the leading reason for these feelings is the extensive amount of school work that he accumulates throughout the week. When asked what he thinks helps him the most with his mental health, he said, “Mostly music, but even then it only helps sometimes.”

The mental health of student athletes is often poor because they are constantly working and have very little time for themselves at times. This constant stress and pressure of having to do things takes a toll on their mental state, as it would on anyone. A big part of maintaining a good mental health is to make sure that an individual has good nutrition and a good dietary plan, especially for an athlete at such a young age.

Mental health is such an important topic because mental health problems during one’s youth correlates with increased risk of drug use, violence, and higher risk sexual behaviors that can lead to STDS such as HIV and AIDS.

The Mental Health of student athletes is something that tends to sometimes be pushed off to the side. But, it is a very serious issue and it is important to know what are possible factors so that in the future the numbers of poor mental health can be lowered, though methods for doing so will vary.

Golden Valley offers a wide variety of methods to support mental health. For example, the GROWL center, which is a location on campus open druing break periods where students can enjoy a peaceful and safe environment to relax in, where they will also have easy access to adults that they can talk to if it is needed.

Student Submissions
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About the Contributors
Kenan Mansilla, Staff Writer
Kenan is a staff writer on the Sports News Team for the Grizzly Gazette and a 12th grader at Golden Valley High School in Santa Clarita, California.  He is currently involved with the school’s baseball team and has played for all four years of high school.  Kenan has been a CSF member since freshman year and intends to do so again for senior year.  Kenan has been surrounded by sports his entire life, so he is very enthusiastic about being able to do more with sports by being able to cover them in the school paper.  In his free time he spends time playing baseball and watching sports.  His favorite baseball team is the Los Angeles Dodgers and his favorite football team is the Philadelphia Eagles, with his favorite baseball player being Nolan Arenado.  He also enjoys being outdoors by doing things like camping and fishing.  Kenan looks forward to this year of journalism because he wants to learn about new ways to write and express things abroad.  
Sophia Walker, Staff Writer
Sophia Walker is a Staff Writer  for the Sports New Team on the Grizzly Gazette and she is in her last year of highschool. She's very passionate about writing about campus activities, student spotlight stories and community issues because she wants to be involved with everything that is happening and to be able to share what needs to be shared which is very important to her. Being a part of the Grizzly Gazette to her is extremely important because there is so much that is going on and all people need to be educated with everything in the world and our community which is very diverse and different. She loves journaling, writing their thoughts and making poems with what happens to make her feel better and researching common things going on to learn more. She also loves helping people and leading them in any way she can, she strives to help and understand anyone. She has had many hobbies including hockey, dance, tennis, volleyball, and acting. Eventually I would love to be a therapist or counselor for families, relationships, and or with any people in need of help or support.