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The Bellarion

The Bellarion

The Bellarion

Mental Health Hurdles Affect Students and Pros Alike

Emma Duvall
Writer Emma Duvall poses with teammate Brooke Hopkins, who was interviewed for this article.

I’m sure if you are a student athlete, you feel the pressure to do well in school and in your sport. Even if you are just a regular athlete that isn’t in school, mental health can still have a toll on your life.  

According to the NCAA, the number of mental health concerns from student athletes is 1.5 times higher than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in January of 2020.  

Ever since coming back from COVID, student athletes/athletes in general have increased their stress and mental exhaustion. The main focus for athletes is their physical health and to stay off the injury list, but people don’t realize trying to do that can also impact their mental health as well. Negative mental health symptoms can have not only serious implications on the court and the field, but it can also cause them to burn out and fall out of love with their sport.  

Having an injury can also have a bigger impact on your mental health. Some athletes will go down with something like an ACL tear, an injury that could knock them out of sports for good. An example of a career-ending injury was Alex Smith, a former NFL quarterback, who suffered a compound fracture that broke the tibia and the fibula. The bones popped out of his leg on the field after being tackled in the backfield by a Houston Texan. Alex needed 16 more surgeries after that in order for his leg to operate normally.

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Smith was lucky to even be alive, as a few days after Smith’s initial surgery, a flesh-eating bacteria took hold and caused immense problems. 2 years and 16 surgeries later, in the fall of 2020, he returned to the field going 9-17 for 37 yards. 

Brooke Hopkins, a senior here at Bel Air and part of the varsity volleyball team, has things to say about mental health in athletes. When asked about balancing work and school, Hopkins said “When I have free time, I will study anything or finish some assignments when I have the free time at school in class.” 

Hopkins also shared balancing a social life with the demands of athletics. “It can be annoying and upsetting sometimes feeling left out of your team so make memories while you have the chance… the season is only so long”. 

Mental health is important for all teenagers, but the impact it has on athletes can easily be more pronounced. Reach out to people if you are struggling, and remember to always put your well-being first.