Varsity athletes experience a unique set of pressures in their combined roles as students and as athletes, from scoring goals and winning trophies to meeting the high expectations of demanding professors, and all the while trying to maintain some modicum of a social life. Sometimes, however, these pressures become too much. As a result, one’s mental health suffers, as well as his or her performance on the pitch and in the classroom.
A growing body of research evidence has demonstrated a strong connection between mental health and sport performance, indicating that as an athlete’s mental health either worsens or improves, performance falls or rises accordingly. Studies have shown that between 70 and 85% of successful and unsuccessful athletes can be identified on the basis of their current state of mental health. Similarly, one’s mental health has a very strong effect on academic performance. Simply put, the better your overall health (mind & body), the more likely you will perform at an optimal level in all aspects of your life.
This section of UBC Athletes Hub can help you recognize the signs and symptoms of some of the more common mental health issues that athletes experience, introduce you to some practical self-help strategies for managing stress, and point you toward some useful resources if you feel that you could use some support. It’s important to understand that you don’t need to have ‘something wrong with you’ to reach out; that challenges and stressors can, and do, exist in your life as a student-athlete. Being a mentally tough athlete involves knowing your own limitations, and knowing when to reach out for a hand.
It’s important to know that it’s pretty common for student-athletes to go through some tough times while trying to manage being an athlete and student. If you’re not enjoying your life academically, athletically, or personally, or are having difficulty making changes on your own, it’s time to reach out for help. You don’t have to navigate the bumps on the road on your own – there are people who want to help.