After reading this article it got me thinking about my work with educational institutions and the neglect many of these institutions have imposed on their athletes. Mental health issues amongst student athletes has always been a behind the scenes issue and approached passively. Nowadays, there are millions of dollars being pumped into athletic programs to produce a product of great substance. The catalyst for the product is a young adult learning to find their way in this world. There are pressures all around them: school, parental, peers, media/society, and most importantly team based. These stressors can be quite intense and very difficult to manage for a young adult who is being asked to maintain a successful balance. Most student athletes are a year or two removed from a high school life that prepared them little for the intensity of their current obligations/expectations.
It amazes me that many collegiate institutions have not established a support system and mental regiment amongst their sports teams. The establishments have much invested in their athletes and their performance, on and off the field. This value of support can be key to a schools image and ultimately, their bank account. If there was a support system for their athletes, I would imagine that countless acts of shenanigans & crimes would be reduced, and most likely temper the images of the schools from the media & society.
Ultimately, it all goes back to supporting a person who is many ways is still a kid. Student athletes need the emotional support and outlet so they can funnel these life pressures. They need to develop the tools to communicate and behave authentically. What we are breeding is an isolated and avoidant individual who is not able to be their true self. Its time we support our athletes so they can not only be great performers on the field but can also be great friends and lovers which ultimately leads to self fulfillment in life. I have worked with a few collegiate institutions and I see the difference when an athlete that has a sound emotional support system. These institutions are making a difference, and success on the field is even getting better. Go figure!