Raising awareness on the importance of mental health in sports

Mental health struggles among athletes hasn’t always been a common conversation in the locker room. However, work is being done to help raise awareness and bring these issues — especially for student athletes — to the forefront.

While 1 in 5 U.S. adults say they struggle with a mental health issue each year, an increasing number of student athletes say they have more mental health concerns now than they did before the pandemic.

The mental health challenges facing youth in general is concerning enough to prompt the declaration of a national crisis, and urge an advisory from the U.S. surgeon general on the dangers of social media use on mental health.

As the presenting sponsor of this year’s Hockey Day Minnesota, it was a good opportunity to highlight the topic of mental health to an audience of student athletes.

As part of that sponsorship, Minnesota Wild’s former player Mark Parrish sat down with current Wild player Marcus Foligno to talk about the importance of mental health awareness in sports. Watch the full conversation below.

Minnesota Wild Marcus Foligno and Wild Alumni Mark Parrish talk about mental health

If you are the parent of a student athlete who could use support, or if you could use help with your own mental health, there are a number of tips and resources to help.

Mental health tips for student athletes

1. Find a support network

Having a solid group of teammates, friends, family and even mental health professionals to lean on when things get tough can go a long way in helping your mental well-being. Find people who you feel comfortable sharing your concerns with and know that it may be multiple people for each challenge, depending on your needs. Perhaps you can confide in your coach about how to cope with stress during the game, or vent to a teammate after a big loss. Connection can be crucial for coping.

2. Take a break from social media

While your social media network may be an engaging way to connect with teammates and friends, it can also serve as an unhealthy platform of negativity and criticism. Taking frequent breaks or setting time limits can help. You may also want to turn off notifications to avoid the temptation. Opt for in-person connection, instead. 

3. Explore other experiences

Understand that while it can feel like sports is dominating your life, you’re still learning about yourself and who you want to be. Make time for other experiences that help expose you to something new — take an art class or make time to volunteer. It may help provide distraction and a breath of fresh air to your time as a competitor.

For more resources to help with mental health concerns, check out our Hockey Day Minnesota site.

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