August 7, 2021
As the Olympic Games wind down in Tokyo, it’s imperative that the global conversation around athlete mental health not only continues but manifests into forward action. We’ve seen and heard the perspectives of athletes across multiple sports in multiple countries, expressing the extreme toll that the demands and pressures of being an elite athlete take on their mental health.
This public dialogue helps clear the path for it to become more common and socially acceptable to openly acknowledge mental health needs for athletes at all levels of sport, leading to a fundamentally important level of increased awareness – both within organizations and our society.
As medical professionals and leaders in the athletics healthcare space, however, we must prioritize the proactive creation of programs and allocation of resources instead of continuing to simply react to a crisis we already know exists.
In addition to the glaring testimonials of Olympic athletes like Simone Biles, Michael Phelps and Lolo Jones (among many others), there is a clear need for increased resources at all levels. Earlier this summer, athlete health and safety took center stage at the Congressional hearings around Name, Image and Likeness legislation with an intense focus on mental health.
The question should not be whether you need to provide mental health resources, but why haven’t you been doing so all along?
Throughout the entire lifecycle of an athlete, programs and organizations cannot continue to espouse a commitment to athlete health and safety without backing it up with the financial and personnel resources required to support both physical and mental wellbeing.
This begins at the earliest participation in sports by making sure parents, coaches and youth sports professionals are educated on the indications that their child may be struggling with a mental health condition, and it continues through ensuring elite and competitive athletes have support systems in place once their careers come to an end.
At USCAH, our commitment to athlete health and safety is not limited to training and competition; we know that the mind and body must both be nourished and protected for an athlete to be truly successful and safe. Our mental health education resources are currently available for collegiate institutions and partners with programs geared toward athletes, coaches, staff and administrators.
To learn more about these programs, or request information about our soon-to-be-available resources for parents of youth athletes, contact USCAH at firstname.lastname@example.org.