When (Not If) Mental Health & Sports Collide

It is my privilege to continue to write for Friday Night Wives. I appreciate their willingness to acknowledge the importance of mental health and sport.

We are entering such an interesting time in sports.

In a country that thrives on the yearly routine of sport seasons, instead we are facing starts and stops, and even the full elimination of seasons at the high school and college level.

As a coach’s wife who has lived this rhythm for almost two decades, facing this change is unsettling.

However, as a therapist who has had a front row seat to the stressors of players and coaches, the impact this could have feels potentially even more threatening.

In nearly 20 years as a coaching family, we have seen up close the mental health challenges that face many athletes and coaches. The grit and resilience athletes learn sometimes bleed over, becoming more of the mental and emotional narrative than is healthy.

And coaches (who may frankly need to win to keep their jobs) feel the pressure, too.

The pressure to keep going, never quit, sacrifice for the team, the game, the mission, and the family.

The sport becomes the identity. And, for some, it gets to be too much.

These are stories we hear every year —

Coaches developing chronic panic attacks.

Players suffering from depression or anxiety.

Coaches becoming physically ill due to mental distress.

Coaches and players struggling to navigate online criticism.

Players who cut.

Players who take their lives.

This may sound intense but they are not isolated instances and they are not once-in-a-career situations. This is reality. Mental health issues are not something that only happens to “other” people and “other” programs. It happens for all of us.

To read this article in full go to Friday Night Wives here.

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