Mental Health & Athletes

Relationship Between Mental Health & Athletes

The Eric Monday Foundation strives to raise awareness and remove the stigma related to mental health issues. Our goals are to assist individuals, families and communities in recognizing that mental illness should not be stigmatized or ignored; and to connect people to the support organizations and professionals that can meet their needs.

To learn more about mental health issues related to athletes and competitive sports, please take a moment to visit our Resources page.

"Some people don’t think of athletes as human; they just see them for what they do and their success on the field. The more athletes define themselves by what they do, the more susceptible they are."


Will Heininger,

former Michigan football player.



Athletes Experience Unique Stress and Intensity and Are Least Likely to Ask for Help



The Culture of High School Athletics


  • Many student-athletes see primary identification as an athlete
  • Identification and specialization start early
  • Place high expectations on themselves
  • Teammates have a tremendous influence
  • Coaches are powerful
  • The team is a closed environment
  • Parental involvement can be an issue
  • Spectators can be harsh critics
  • Under constant observation and evaluation


Stressors in Athletics


  • Losing role on team or being cut
  • Not allowed to leave the sport with dignity
  • Conflicts with teammates or coach
  • Concussions / Injuries
  • Overtraining, year round training, burnout
  • Multiple competitions, multiple teams in a week
  • Fear of failure; fear of success
  • Poor public performance can be humiliating
  • Over functioning parent
  • Problems in other major spheres (academics, social)


Hazing and bullying (based on power and dominance)

  • 22% of HS students subjected to dangerous hazing
  • 43%  of HS students subjected to humiliating activities
  • 71% of time lead to negative consequences
  • Mistrust, anxiety, depression, quitting, tentative play, fighting, suicidal ideation


Use of alcohol and other drugs by H.S. student-athletes

  • More frequently / consume more than their non-athlete peers
  • Especially high in the last 3 months of the senior year
  • Marked increase in drinking begins around 16.5 years
  • Misuse of prescription drugs is on the rise





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