Mental health in student-athletes has become a serious topic. However, for student-athletes, it is difficult to talk about their mental health due to the stigma surrounding it.


Balancing school, work, extracurricular activities and playing on a college sports team can be challenging for many student-athletes, and this can affect one’s mental health greatly. Mental health can include one’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. 

There is the constant pressure of performing successfully on the field and off the field that college athletes face from themselves and others. However, it has become increasingly hard for athletes to discuss their mental health because of the stigma surrounding it which prevents them from using any counseling services provided on campus. 

The stigma surrounding mental health in student-athletes has been overlooked for too long due to the notion of “being tough.” Many believe athletes cannot show weakness because coaches and parents only focus on performance rather than personal growth.

As a student-athlete myself, I have dealt with being overwhelmed and mentally and physically exhausted all the time due to how much I have to balance and the demands that are put on me. It was a struggle in itself because I felt like there was nothing I could do about it, however, I got through it by reminding myself that I love track and field and always gave myself reasons why I decided to continue it in college. Track and field is my stress reliever and my outlet for everything. 

Here at VWU, we are part of an organization called Morgan’s Message that advocates for mental health in intercollegiate sports. This organization brings light to mental health and these types of campaigns should be encouraged or provided by the NCAA.

So, in my case, I helped myself, but for others, that is not always the case and we need professionals who are able to understand the daily life of a student-athlete because it is not always fun.

Shirell Washington