The Health & Wellness Corner is brought to you on a monthly basis by students in Waukee High School's APEX program. In consultation with fitness experts from Premier Athlete Training, students research a variety of health & wellness topics focused on improving the well-being of student-athletes. We'll also share a new a variety of fitness tips every month related to the primary topic discussed.

This month's Health & Wellness Corner written by Claire Hansen, Waukee APEX Associate

Mental Health for Student-Athletes

Why Mental Health is Important

Many athletes put a lot of time and effort into their physical health, but something that is just as important and can sometimes go ignored is mental health. Athletes face many pressures daily that can evoke strong emotional reactions and stress. Student-athletes have to balance the pressure of schoolwork and grades with games and practices. When an athlete overlooks their mental health, it can create excessive suffering, and they may lose stability in their lives. Emotional well-being can not only improve an athlete's success during competition but improve their life overall.

Common Struggles Athletes May Face

A healthy diet and regular exercise are shown to boost moods and improve mental health. However, student-athletes have many other pressures in their lives that can lead to burnout, eating disorders, anxiety, or depression. According to the NCAA Sport Science Institute, some of the most common psychiatric disorders in student-athletes are, “Anxiety disorders, Mood disorders, Personality disorders, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Eating disorders, and body dysmorphic disorder”. Performance anxiety and panic disorder are common among athletes. Phobias may occur because of an injury, and panic attacks may occur because of extensive anticipation of the event or feelings of being overwhelmed. Body dysmorphic disorder and eating disorders are also seen in athletes because of the focus in some sports on physique and aesthetics. There are many other disorders that could stem from being a student-athlete.

How to Seek Help

The struggles that athletes face can be overlooked and go ignored. According to Athletes for Hope, “33% of all college students experience significant symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions. Among that group, 30% seek help. But of college athletes with mental health conditions, only 10% do”. It is important to reach out if you or a friend are struggling. There are many resources available to help you. Contact your school counselor, or utilize the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s ​list of national resources​, or the National Institute of Mental Health’s ​list of national resources​.


Mental Health and Athletes

Mind, Body and Sport: The Psychiatrist Perspective

The IGHSAU Health & Wellness Corner is created by high school students in Waukee High School's APEX program. The IGHSAU is thankful for its partnership with Waukee APEX to create meaningful content to share with our member schools, student-athletes, coaches, and fans. To learn more about Waukee APEX, click here.