Parents and coaches can take specific actions to support the mental health of young athletes
U.S. Center for SafeSport
| 3 min read
Today’s young athletes face more pressure than ever to perform—whether in interscholastic games, camps, or showcases that can give them a leg up for scholarships or elite competition. For these and many more reasons, coaches and parents must recognize and support the mental health of young athletes.
Truth is, mental health challenges are common for athletes of any age—53% of athletes surveyed by the U.S. Center for SafeSport reported they had struggled with depression, anxiety, or another mental health concern. Youth have experienced increased mental health challenges since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Young athletes in particular may not talk openly about these struggles due to pressure they may feel to push stoically through adversity; “no pain, no gain,” they may think.
Below are three simple steps every parent and coach can take to initiate open, age-appropriate conversations with young athletes about mental health. Kids may not always feel comfortable starting the conversation, but if you approach them authentically and compassionately—a touch of vulnerability won’t hurt, either—they may follow your lead.
When youth athletes are safe and supported, sport participation can strengthen their mental health. U.S. Center for SafeSport courses and resources have been created to help coaches and parents create positive sport environments where youth athletes can thrive.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or considering suicide, please dial 988 or visit 988lifeline.org