Student Athlete Mental Health Resources

Ryan Marston, MS, BCS | Updated/Verified: Jan 25, 2024

Student athletes have to balance a lot, from their academics to their competitive nature to pressure from coaches and parents. As a result of these stresses, the mental health of many student athletes suffers. Whether it is a youth athlete with aspirations of playing at a higher level or an athlete already playing at the collegiate level, mental health concerns longevity in the sport and overall health and well-being. 1 in 5 people report mental health concerns in the general public, and research from the NCAA shows that the athlete population follows the same trend as the general public. Still, only 43% of student athletes report they feel comfortable going to a coach with their mental health concerns.

This resource looks at the science behind student athlete mental health, some solutions, and suggestions for the students, their coaches, and their parents. Here, you'll find a comprehensive collection of podcasts, books, articles, organizations, videos, and more to help students excel in their athletic pursuits and mental health.

The number of student athletes reporting mental health concerns in 1.5 to two times higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic. Source: https://ncaaorg.s3.amazonaws.com/research/other/2020/2022RES_NCAA-SA-Well-BeingSurvey.pdf

Scholarly Articles

An Examination of Depression, Anxiety, and Self-Esteem in Collegiate Student-Athletes

This study looks at current research into self-esteem and mental health related to student-athletes to find possible gaps.

Variability in Institutional Screening Practices Related to Collegiate Student-Athlete Mental Health

The Journal of Athletic Training released this study focused on how screenings can address the mental health challenges of athletes.

Supporting Mental Health and Well-being Among Student-Athletes

Karen P. Egan released this article to summarize her findings, including the symptoms of mental health issues found in student-athletes.

The Psychological Response to Injury in Student Athletes: A Narrative Review with a Focus on Mental Health

Discover the different ways student-athletes respond to injuries and the effects on their mental health in this journal article.

Student-Athlete Perceptions of Stress, Support, and Seeking Mental Health Services

The College Research Institute looks at the stress associated with mental health and how support can aid student-athletes in this piece.

National Protection of Student-Athlete Mental Health: The Case for Federal Regulation over the National Collegiate Athletic Association

Jayce Born wrote this article to discuss the need for federal laws to protect athletes and their mental health while in school.

Predicting Student-Athlete Mental Health: Coach-Athlete Relationship

Four authors worked on this journal article, which looks at how coaches can protect their students by looking for signs of mental health troubles.

The College Student-Athlete: Psychological Considerations and Interventions

Learn about some of the reasons student-athletes seek help and what campus counseling centers can do to assist them in this article.

Reducing Barriers to Mental Health Care for Student-Athletes: An Integrated Care Model

Published by the APA PsycNet, this piece looks at how to encourage student-athletes to seek help and get the support they need.

Mental Health in the Youth Athlete

Discover some of the mental health challenges other students face in this article that also looks at screening and treatment options.

Prevalence of Stress Amongst High School Athletes

Please read over this piece to see how everyday stress is among young athletes and the anonymous experiences they share.

Mental Health in the Young Athlete

See how training programs and other factors impact the mental health of young athletes while they’re still in school here.

Web Articles

Prioritizing Mental Health in College Athletes

This online article reviews current literature and discusses the impact of mental health on student athletes.

Student-Athletes Report Fewer Mental Health Concerns

This short piece examines how and why student athletes report fewer mental health concerns than their peers and what it might mean.

A Game Plan for Mental Health

Ari Miller talks about the challenges he faced in a new position at Johns Hopkins and the game plan he created for athletes.

NAIA Mental Health Toolkit

This toolkit offers a range of free resources you can use in your school to help students struggling with depression and similar conditions.

College Sports Not Immune to Mental Health Challenges

Read through this article to learn facts on mental health and see how college athletes aren’t immune from some conditions.

The Unseen Struggles of Being a Student Athlete

This article, part of the Duke University Sports & Race Project, discusses student athletes’ challenges that others don’t consider.

Study: College Athletes Experience High Rates of Mental Health Stigma

In this article, you’ll find the results of a significant study that included more than 200 college students’ thoughts about mental health.

Mental Health in Teen Athletes

Parents and other adults may find this article helpful as it discusses the best ways adults can help and support student-athletes.

How We Can Support the Mental Health of Young Athletes

The American Academy of Pediatrics uses this article to go over the unique symptoms of mental health issues found in student-athletes.

The Good and Bad of Youth Athletics on Your Child's Mental Health

This online article looks at some of the benefits playing sports has on mental health and how it can lead to some possible problems.

How to Recognize Depression and Anxiety in Young Athletes and How to Help

Find the most common signs of anxiety and depression here, which also provides some tips on how to help student-athletes.

On Thin Ice: Competitive Sports & Youth Mental Health

Leah Kuntz takes an in-depth look at the issues surrounding competitive sports, primarily how they affect students’ mental health.

Strengthening Mental Health for Young Athletes

Several doctors worked with UW Medicine to provide resources and tips for athletes and their parents to improve their mental health.

Only 10% of all college athletes with known mental health conditions seek care from a mental health professional. Source: https://www.acsm.org/news-detail/2021/08/09/the-american-college-of-sports-medicine-statement-on-mental-health-challenges-for-athletes

Books

Mindfulness for Student Athletes: A Workbook to Help Teens Reduce Stress and Enhance Performance

This workbook features many activities to help young athletes improve their performance and reduce stress to boost their mental health.

Athlete Mental Health and Performance Optimization

Available as an e-book or paperback, this book focuses on the Optimum Performance Program for Sports and how it supports mental health.

Mental Toughness For Young Athletes: Eight Proven 5-Minute Mindset Exercises For Kids And Teens Who Play Competitive Sports

Work through the mental exercises in this book to maintain your focus when playing and improve your mind power to battle stress.

The Brave Athlete

Kick back and relax as you listen to this book, which spends more than nine hours going over the common mental challenges facing athletes and the remedies for them.

Athlete Mental Health Playbook

This playbook guides those unfamiliar with mental health and includes tips and strategies to deal with the unique challenges athletes face.

Applied Sport Psychology: Personal Growth to Peak Performance

Though this is more of a textbook than a fun read, it provides valuable information on dealing with mental health issues and challenges as a student-athlete.

What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen

Kate Fagan wrote this book to talk about the case of Maddy Holleran, who suffered silently from issues that led her to take her life rather than seek help.

Athletes and Acquaintance Rape

Prepare yourself for this book, which looks at sexual assault on college campuses and how the athletic community protects the assaulters while ignoring their victims.

Stress, Well-Being, and Performance in Sport

Designed for coaches and others who work with athletes, this book offers an exciting look at how they can reduce stress and help those suffering from mental health conditions.

Mind, Body, and Sport – Understanding and Supporting Student-Athlete Mental Wellness

Download this free book to discover the connection between the mind, body, and sport, including how it can lead to mental health challenges.

Stress in College Athletics: Causes, Consequences, Coping

Multiple authors worked on this must-read book that discusses why stress is so everyday among student-athletes and its impacts on them.

Bring Your “A” Game: A Young Athlete’s Guide to Mental Toughness Kindle Edition

The author of this ebook provides students with strategies to improve and protect their mental health while they engage in school sports.

Websites & Associations

Athletes for Hope

Athletes for Hope is committed to helping students deal with their mental health through special programs, free resources, and on-campus groups.

The Jed Foundation

Get emergency help for mental health issues through this foundation, or find out how to help others in need, like your students.

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Better known as NAMI, this organization offers free resources for parents, coaches, and others, including a symptom checker and links to treatment centers.

Teen Mental Health Society

Attend virtual seminars to talk or learn about mental illnesses, find peer networks who can help, and look for student internships on this site.

Heard Alliance

The Heard Alliance brings teachers, doctors, and other professionals together to help young patients struggling with their mental health.

The Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health

Also known as ACAMH, this association provides access to podcasts, journal articles, blogs, and guides on mental health issues.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Discover facts about mental health and children through this association, which also offers many resources like libraries filled with free articles.

The Parent Health Network

Designed by Mental Health America, this organization allows you to join for free, attend virtual meetings, and find mental health professionals in your area.

Teen Line

Teens of all ages can get help through one phone call, email, or text message to this toll-free line, where other teens listen to them and offer guidance.

Active Minds

Active Minds helps teens and other youths struggling with their mental health because the organization believes it will prepare them for the future.

Society for Adolescent Health & Medicine

Often called SAHM, this organization hosts annual conferences and online meetings and offers resources for those needing mental health help.

Mental Health Innovation Network

Teen Mental Health is a branch of MHIN that offers programs and resources for teens struggling with their mental health and their parents.

Child Mind Institute

The Child Mind Institute believes in helping kids and their families with their mental health challenges through free and low-cost counseling sessions.

Youth.gov

Find government agencies and departments that offer mental health support on this website, including links to online articles and other resources.

Youth Mental Health

Also available from the MHIN, this page looks at the issues associated with teen mental health and what teachers and parents can do to help.

Teens & College Students and Anxiety and Depression

Find out how social media affects mental health, where teens can go for help, and discover free online resources through this site.

30% of women and 25% of men who are student athletes report having anxiety. Source: https://www.acsm.org/news-detail/2021/08/09/the-american-college-of-sports-medicine-statement-on-mental-health-challenges-for-athletes

Videos

For NCAA Student Athletes’ Mental Health: A More Educated Approach

In this NCAA video, you’ll see the association’s new approaches to helping athletes struggling with mental health.

Burnout In Elite Teenage Athletes | BTN High

Created by ABC News, this video looks at the stress facing athletes in elite schools and how it can lead to mental health challenges.

Student-Athlete Mental Health

The University of Michigan looks at the mental health of its students and how it affects their overall lives in this video.

Student-Athletes Need to Talk About Mental Health

This TED talk, Featuring Mya Schnader, looks at some common reasons why student-athletes need to talk about their mental health.

Mental Health for Youth Athletes

This YouTube channel offers many videos featuring a swim family discussing the importance of mental health.

How Parents Can Help Teen Athletes Deal with Mental Health Struggles

Another video from ABC News talks about the challenges of balancing life and sports and how it affects students.

Athletes and Mental Health: The Hidden Opponent

In this TED talk, Victoria Garrick relates mental health to an opponent students never see coming and how it can hit them.

Student Athletes are Struggling with Mental Health Issues: What to Know

Click on Detroit spends nearly three minutes discussing student athletes’ struggles and what others can do to help.

Mental Health & Young Athletes: Stress, Eating Disorders, and More

Released by UAB Alumni, this video focuses on stress and other challenges that can affect the mental health of college athletes.

More Than Just Players: How Mental Health Impacts Student Athletes

This video, available from a station in Iowa, discusses the impact of mental health on anyone involved in student athletics.

For Coaches and Parents

The Coaches’ Guide to Supporting High School Athlete Mental Health

The Positive Coaching Alliance designed this detailed guide for high school coaches that looks at improving players’ self-esteem and much more.

Best Practices for Coaching an Athlete With Mental Health Concerns

This researched article looks at the best ways for coaches to work with their athletes and support them while focusing on their mental health.

Coaches Assist

This page offers various resources for coaches, including guides on how to prevent hazing and manage/work with female athletes.

Guide for Coaches and Athletic Trainers: Assisting Athletes in Distress

This PDF includes a long list of signs an athlete is in distress and goes over what trainers and coaches can do to help them in a crisis.

How Coaches Can Help

Created by a team at the University of Michigan, this page offers coaches five easy ways to help during a mental health crisis involving an athlete.

Mind, Body, and Sport: Best Practices for Athletic Departments

Find out how screening, managing risk, and other techniques are essential for school athletic departments to care for student-athletes.

Mental Health Essentials for Coaches

Sign up for one of these one-hour training sessions to learn how to identify a mental health crisis and what to do when it happens.

Mental Health Guidance and Resources for Coaches, Athletes, and Parents

This page includes many resources for coaches and others who work with student-athletes, such as how to be there for them and help when needed.

How Parents Can Support Your Student Athlete

From depression to identity issues, this page covers the most common issues and looks at the things parents can do and what they should not do.

17 Phrases Your Players Want to Hear from You & Your Staff

Learn some of the best phrases you can repeat to your players on this page to offer support when needed, which covers addiction and other conditions.

Mental Health and Athletic Teens: What Parents Need to Know

Available from At Your Own Risk, this guide provides parents tips on spotting signs of mental illness and when to seek professional help.

Podcasts

College Student Athlete Mental Health

In just 27 minutes, this podcast goes over the challenges for incoming students, the best mental health resources for them, and similar topics.

Athlete Mindset

Lisa Bonta Sumii hosts this podcast, which features interviews with coaches about how they support their students and improve their mental health.

Supporting the Mental Health of Student Athletes

Cali Werner talks with this host about her mental health struggles as a college athlete and what she thinks athletes need today.

Team Sidelined

Team Sidelined covers stories from athletes who had to take time away from their sports and how those experiences led to depression and other issues.

Student Athlete Podcast

In this podcast, you’ll hear interviews from students about the issues they faced while playing sports and in school, mainly how their experiences affected their health.

Mindful Things: A Mental Health Podcast

Set at McLean Hospital, this podcast covers a new mental health topic each week and includes interviews with those who struggled.

Athletes OnBalance

A former college football player discusses his Bipolar Diagnosis and talks with other athletes about their struggles in and out of school in Athletes OnBalance.

Beyond the Bench

Beyond the Bench features three college athletes who come together to discuss their mental health and give others a healthy way to discuss their challenges.

Mind-Design Sports

In this podcast, you have the chance to hear from real students and professional athletes about the psychological impact sports and their experiences have on their mental health.

Everything Athletes – Mental Health for Competitors

Kim Carducci uses her podcast to talk with athletes and others about how competition can affect mental health and the best way to combat this.

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