Recent suicides spotlight college athlete’s mental health

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 7:02 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A recent string of suicides among college athletes is bringing attention to their mental health. They face many challenges other students face, but with the added pressure of managing their sport. That alone can add up to an additional 20 hours of work a week, which can increase stress levels dramatically.

There’s also a stigma that college athletes are resilient and everything is going their way. Many might even ask, “why shouldn’t their mental health always be good?” This stigma may also contribute to why some athletes do not reach out when they’re struggling.

There are some things families and friends can do to help and it’s all about keeping the conversation going.

“They have mental health struggles and they’re doing the best they can to manage them,” said Dr. Yani Dickens, Director of Counseling Services at UNR. “But nobody knows that they’re struggling and they don’t have a place to seek support. What we find is that when people feel they can reach out and talk about their problems, they’re better off. So people are less likely to commit suicide when they tell someone that they’re having suicidal thoughts than when they don’t.”

He also stressed the importance of making it ok to fail and to make sure athletes get plenty of rest.

At UNR, Dr. Dickens says athletes are actually more likely to reach out to their counseling services than other students. In general, there is a big demand for their counseling services, but they are understaffed and struggling to meet demand, but new hires are expected to be made soon.

If you’re having thoughts of suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. If you’re s student in need of counseling, you can make an appointment here.

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