Prioritizing mental health among student-athletes

Amanda Aguilar Image
Saturday, May 11, 2024
Prioritizing mental health among student-athletes
Doctors say student-athletes should prioritize their mental wellness along with physical wellness, to thrive both on and off the field.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Just as student-athletes focus on their physical wellness, according to doctors, mental wellness should also be a priority. It gives the athletes the ability to thrive on and off the field.

"I think in our medical community -- we're beginning to understand and appreciate the massive impact that mental health has on one's relationship to injury, treatment and recovery," said Dr. Anthony Yu.

Yu is an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at Kaiser Permanente Fresno, and sees dozens of student-athletes every day.

He said there's pressure to perform their best at practices, and especially at games.

"Doing whatever you can to gain exposure and recognition, again, to sort of give you that advantage to maybe have that chance to play at the next level," Yu explained.

This could lead to burnout, depression or an injury, according to doctors.

When a student-athlete gets injured, Dr. Yu said it takes a mental toll on the athlete.

"Fear is a huge psychological obstacle," he said. "It's not really anything to be ashamed of or surprised, because we're seeing that a lot of athletes who had had a traumatic ACL tear on the football field, they may not be mentally ready to play again."

Doctors encourage parents to check in with their student-athlete and listen to what they're sharing. Lastly, keep sports fun.

"We put them in sports, hoping they'd have fun in the first place," Dr. Yu said.

The ultimate goal should be to make the sport more rewarding long-term for the athlete.

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