The Importance of Mental Health Among Student-Athletes


Content Warning: mention of suicide


With America regaining a sense of normalcy after a year of hardship and change, problems were revealed that had worsened over the pandemic, such as mental health. The pressure is constantly on student-athletes all across the country, and whether it be in the classroom or on the field, some athletes don’t know where to go to deal with the stress of holding such a title. LJ Pickett, an Enloe football player, says “a student-athlete is someone who excels both on and off the field”. According to Niche, Enloe High is ranked the 5th best public high school in the state of North Carolina. With an A plus in academics and an AP enrollment of 44%, Enloe demonstrates a competitive culture. 

According to the NCAA, 38% of female and 22% of male sports participants have felt exhausted every day, or constantly, due to the physical and mental demands of the sport. Pickett describes some of his experiences with the concept of mental health throughout his four years of being an Enloe athlete. “One of the main challenges many student-athletes face is time management”. Between school, sports, and just having a normal teenage social life, it’s a challenge trying to juggle it all while also trying to navigate the rest of high school and beyond. 

In most American high schools, with most students participating in homecoming, football is one of the most watched and interactive sports — but many don’t see what players go on behind closed doors. Your teachers and peers view you in a different light. 

“Having higher standards with going to Enloe along with being on the football team, holding yourself to those high expectations can get to some people’s heads,” says Pickett. When asked what strategies he uses in his games, he said, “I enjoy listening to music, and family is also another big thing for me. I know that they are gonna be there supporting me. For me, every game is a big game, another big opportunity”.

Over the past couple of months, mental health among student-athletes has been a widespread topic on the collegiate level for many sports after athletes such as Sarah Shulze, Katie Meyer, Jayden Hill, Robert Martin, and Lauren Bernet passed away due to suicide in March and April of 2022. With everything that teenagers face on a daily basis along with athletes, there are healthy ways of dealing with stress. The first step is to identify areas where you may struggle. This could be waking up in the morning, getting work done, etc. Secondly, you should research or talk with someone about ways you can make time for yourself outside of sports or school. School counselors and coaches are great resources to talk about anything involving the stress that may come with being a student-athletes.

If you or anybody you know is currently struggling with mental health, please go to Enloe’s Student Services website or any of the following hotlines:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline- (9-8-8)

Hopeline (Teen to Teen)- (877-YOUTHLINE)

Depression and Bipolar Alliance- (800-826- 3632)