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College Sports' Ongoing Dilemma

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

NORTHRIDGE, CA-  Many college athletes are fighting another battle outside of their respective sports, and they are suffering with their mental health.  Recent studies have shown that nearly 25% of college athletes show "clinically relevant" signs of depression.

Credit: Loughborough University. Pressure for some college athletes is too much.

Student athletes at the college level have more than one job.  They made it this far, they've been through the youth sports circuit, obtained a scholarship, walked on to the program, or just earned a spot.  However they did it, they all need to perform to stay, they need to strive to improve and be near perfect.  Most have been dealing with pressure their whole live's and understand that their sport might be their "ticket."  


A recent study performed by researches at Drexel University and Kean University, showed that almost 25% of college athletes have depressive symptoms. 


They say that "female college athletes reported significantly more depressive symptoms than males." and that "Findings suggest that depression prevalence among college athletes is comparable to that found in the general college population. In light of these findings, sports medicine personnel may wish to implement depression screening and assessment of depressive symptoms across sports to identify at-risk athletes."


But after speaking with CSUN Professor Jacob Jensen, he said that "there is still a major stigma that comes with speaking out about depression.  That a thought of weakness or being lesser comes into play, and that is a feeling no competitive athlete wants to face."


They are spending 40-50 hours a week just on being an athlete.  So where do they find time to study?  To eat? Or even take time to mentally recuperate. Many don't.


Professor Jensen explained how an athlete dealing with an injury can create an even more at-risk situation for that individual to struggle with their mental health.


"When that athlete gets hurt, and they are not forced to sit on the sidelines.  That person usually has a tough time seeing the recovery path, unless they have a strong foundation."

Stories of college athletes committing suicide aren't heard much in the media, but the widely publicized death of Madison Holleran's is one that many knew of.  The pressures to perform and "perfectionist culture" is something that stood out and is a common theme. Who was checking in on her? 


A recent study in the UK showed that 95 students died by suicide in one year.

There aren't many trained professionals keeping an eye on these athletes who might be suffering mentally.  Also, seeing the signs of depression is also a tough thing to point out, unless directly diagnosed.  That is where the feeling of "quitting" might creep into the athlete's mind.


Student athletes are not getting enough help.  There needs to be a shift in the perception of mental health so more are comfortable asking for help.


There needs to be more action before more are taken out of it.


By, Scott Geirman

Contributors, NCBI, The Tab, CSUN, Mental Health America, Drexel University

Photo, Loughborough University

Video, Michigan Medicine


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