Mental Health State and Pressures on Student Athletes

Q&A for Session #2
Sports Nutrition Symposium 5.0
Monday June 20th, 2022 @ 7 pm CST

Chelsi Day-Symposium 5.0 Speaker

Attendees will learn about the current mental health difficulties facing athletes today and the impact of various social stressors on these challenges.

All live sessions are free to attend. If you want lifetime access to the sessions from Sports Nutrition Symposium 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0 then check out the VIP Pass!

  • Are there any free/affordable mental health training for power athletes in Canada?
    • Probably. I have colleagues in Canada. Canada is ahead on mental health promotion. List to come from Dr. Day
  • Tavis: Role of social media: With so much on young athlete plate today, how does social media impact them. Is there more pressure?
    • It depends, we have plenty of athletes who use it appropriately. For many it can be a slippery slope. There are the pressures of bullying. We probably have all been guilty of typing something that we would never say to someone's face. For me, there's the mental health pop culture things that can be issues. I have kids coming in saying " I saw a tiktok..." There are plenty of people promoting social media well and there are so many people promoting misinformation. NIL is moving in and that can bring issues. What we know in the stage of brain development is they're not making good choices with time management. If someone wants to pay you as an athlete, all the power to you. As an example, an athlete came to me, their dad wanted to capatilize on all the opportunities that were available to him. They needed to do an unboxing but could only do that at 9pm. Doing an unboxing at 9 pm will not bring in the views needed for the company. Things like that aren't being considered. What does it mean now to have to promote this brand? "Should I be taking this supplemtent? I can't promote it if I don't take it but should I be taking it?" There are a lot of benefits to hacing access to mental health help infomration. There are good and bad aspects to social media. It can bring pressure but it can promote community.
  • Are there certain sports where athletes seem to be more likely to have certain mental health concerns? (For example - more depression in X sport??)
    • We don't have good data or hard numbers. Research is just now scratching the surface. We don't see a lot of sport difference in the minimal studies yet. We do see gender differences in the wild and in sport. Women seek help more often. The "why" is what's tricky. Some sports seem to have higher rates of mental health issues anecdotally. However, these are also sports that tend to be more open to mental health. Rowing has high rates of mental health concerns but also seeking out help. From a social diversity perspective, rowing is a more open and accepting sport. There are plenty of anecdotes. Wrestling has low rates of utilization but we don't know if they actually have fewer mental health concerns of if they are a sport that has learned to "shut it all in." There are sports that have higher rates and more utilization but there are a lot of factors
  • Is there any focus being placed on preparing athletes for a post-college life?
    • We try so hard! That is one of the hardest transitions that athletes face whether transitioning out of an elite sports or out of college. At Ohio State can access two years after graduation, quits, or is cut. We are moving in the direction of how do we provide the support. The problem is that when you graduate college you are in an entry level job and maybe have health insurance, but most sports psychologists don't take health insurance because it is complicated. Often they cannot afford to get mental health help. There is a lot of excitement around this and we are talking about how to prepare athletes in their freshman year but can't get the buy in from athletes yet
  • Can you please list those class for mental health training again?
    • Mental health first aid. QPR (question persuade refer). Some are institution-specific, some are sport-specific. Many offered online or in-person. Some are as short as 1-2 hours and others 4-8 hours depending. List to come from Dr. Day.
  • Is there a website you can recommend that we share with student athletes to help with these topics? We finally have 2 counselors for our university, but no health center or psychologist.
    • University of Michigan has a great website for this (videos, lots of resources). NCAA has good content athletes might find approachable. Some problem is there are a lot of apps and sites from people who aren't qualified. Mental Health America is great; National Alliance on Mental Illness; Hilinski's Hope. UNIT3D Podcast - Josie Nicholson at Ole Miss, partnered with Hilinski's Hope. Stick to larger organization that are credible and have lots of good info.
  • Do you have any insight for supporting athletes as they transition professionally? (instead of transitioning out of the sport?)
    • I think it's similar, everyone thinks they are ready for it, but then when they start they don't feel as ready. They were physically ready to train but harder to begin again as a rookie. One of the big things is to be gentle and to go easy on your self. Understanding the stories and narratives we tell ourselves. Will still have imposter syndrome because you are treated like a rookie. Having the conversations on what they think it's going to be. There can be a mismatch of expectations so ask them their expectations. Having conversations with athletes: "What are your expectations?" "In what ways might that not be what happens?" Have you heard stories of that not happening?" "How can we get ahead of that? What can we be thinking about?"