YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Your mental health is as important as your physical health. In fact, the two go hand-in-hand! We take steps to keep our bodies tuned for optimum athletic performance. Mental health should be no different.
TAKING CARE OF YOU
Everyone is different – you have to find what works for you. Here are some tips from our Champions and experts to get you started!
SAMHI Mental Health Action Plan
For coaches and student-athletes.Learn more
Eat. Hydrate. Stretch. Breathe. Sleep. Repeat. This seems like an easy one, but sometimes we forget to prioritize the basics. If you are having trouble with these, explore available resources at your school to help you out (doctor, nutritionist, student success services, yoga classes).
Find your balance. As a student-athlete this can be challenging because of demands on our time and our identity. Try to make time for new experiences and new people. “I have now found my place in the world and no longer view myself as ‘ Marin the (fill the blank)’ . I am a compilation of the choices I make on a daily basis.”– Marin
Acknowledge that you can be vulnerable and tired. “After doing this my mental health and emotional well-being improved, and eventually got to a point where I could openly discuss the strain I felt as a student and as an athlete.”– Glynndon
Ask for help. Sometimes you might not know where to start or what kind of help to ask for as it can be different depending on your needs. Start with someone you trust. “If I would have had the wherewithal to ask for help earlier, I would have not only been happier off of the ice, but I would have been a stronger skater on it as well.”– Anastasia
MENTAL ILLNESS AND STUDENT-ATHLETES
Even if we take care of our mental health, it is possible that we may experience a mental illness; although building good mental health and coping strategies can absolutely help to manage mental illness.
Many athletes believe that they are not supposed to have mental illness, or are too embarrassed to seek help. Sometimes they feel like they are burdening those who are important to them.
It’s important to understand that mental illness is a change in your mental state that makes it difficult to feel like yourself and impacts your daily function. It can develop rapidly or gradually, and it may range from mild to severe. So it is important to be aware of the signs, such as:
- Changes (increase or decrease) in appetite, sleep, and weight.
- Decreased concentration, attention and energy level may also be present.
- Anxiety, worry, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts may occur.
- Desire to spend more time alone or feel unreasonable and irrational guilt. Some people start to drink or use drugs more to “escape”.
- Decreased performance, missed training sessions and competitions, and loss of passion for their sport.
Common types of mental illness include depression, anxiety, sleep problems, disordered eating, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, substance use problems, and psychological changes after concussions. Click here for the NCAA Guide to Managing Student-Athlete Mental Health Issues.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Connecting with supports and mental health professionals is highly recommended, and in some cases, essential. It is important to become informed about the mental health resources available on campus. Think someone might be experiencing a mental health problem or illness? Asking them gently whether or not they are struggling is a good start, or asking for support from those they trust.
CAN I STILL COMPETE?
Having a mental illness (even severe forms) does not mean you have to stop training or competing. Staying involved in your sport should be a part of your treatment and wellness plan. Obtaining treatment could accelerate return to training and competition (if it has been interrupted), and potentially improve outcome and performance. Having a mental illness does not mean that you will need medications. The need to use medication in treatment is usually determined by severity of the illness and impairment.
Good2Talk is a free, confidential and anonymous helpline providing professional counselling and information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being to post-secondary students in Ontario, 24/7/365.
eMentalHealth.ca provides anonymous, confidential and trustworthy information, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
HealthyMinds is a problem-solving tool to help deal with emotions and cope with the stresses you encounter both on and off campus.
safeTALK is a half-day alertness workshop that prepares anyone over the age of 15, regardless of prior experience or training, to become a suicide-alert helper.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
mindyourmind is a space for youth and young adults (14-24) to find support when going through tough times
Man Therapy is to provide men, and their loved ones, a place to learn more about men’s mental health, to examine their own wellness and to consider a wide array of actions designed to put them on the path to treatment and recovery.
Mental health first aid is aid for a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.
MoodTracker is a mobile app to help people manage depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety.
Headspace is your very own personal trainer, here to help you train your mind.
Relax Melodies is the most popular sleep aid app! Start sleeping now and enjoy full nights of sleep like you haven’t in a long time!