Is it already too late? Student athletes’ mental health on the decline


Several student athletes struggle with mental health issues as a result of balancing school, sports and personal life.

Natalie Richmiller, Photo Manager

Student athletes’ mental health struggles are too often overlooked or go unnoticed. It is these students who are expected to maintain their grades and perform with excellence even though they are faced with the most demanding schedules.

There is not enough focus on ensuring that student athletes are mentally and physically able to handle the stress their lifestyle presents. The American College of Sports Medicine discovered that, “approximately 30% of women and 25% of men who are student-athletes report having anxiety, and only 10% of all college athletes with known mental health conditions seek care from a mental health professional.” 

When students feel ashamed or do not know how to ask for help, they are forced to suffer alone. In some cases, their feelings can become so overwhelming that they resort to suicide. It is the last option when one feels they have no other way out. Senior Joel Lawlor, a player for the PV boy’s basketball team, explained the lack of awareness around mental health. “It seems like you only hear about student athletes’ mental health once it’s already too late,” he said. “I think there should be more resources available, especially at the college level.”

The reality is that student athletes’ mental health is only talked about after a loss has occurred. Instead of spreading awareness after a life has been lost, mental health should always be prioritized. Schools and sports programs need to provide resources to better help student athletes manage the pressure and challenges they are presented with. Without this, student athletes’ mental well-being will continue to deteriorate. 

Katie Meyer, soccer goalie at Stanford University, recently lost her battle with mental health. On March 1, Meyer was found unresponsive in her dorm with all indications pointing toward suicide. She was pronounced dead later that morning. 

Meyer was a successful athlete known for being the team captain of Stanford’s Women’s Soccer Team and admired for multiple important stops that helped her team move forward with their season. Academically, she was majoring in international relations with a minor in history and worked as a resident assistant. 

Her friends and family described her as larger than life and extremely dedicated to her team and school work. The details of her mental health are unknown, but the privacy of her and her family should be respected. 

Player for the PV girls basketball team, senior, Megan Schiltz shared what it is like hearing about a fellow athlete taking their own life. “It’s heartbreaking to hear an athlete like that commit suicide because in a way we are just like them. While not all athletes turn out to be collegiate or professional athletes, we all experience the same pressure to perform at a high level and it takes a toll on your mental health every day. So to see someone lose a battle that you relate so much to as an athlete is extremely sad and there need to be more outlets for student athletes just like Kate Meyer,” she explained.

The expectation to always be perfect is not a type of pressure that student athletes should have to endure. It can be extremely damaging and significantly increases the possibility of depression and anxiety. “There is definitely a lot of pressure on us as student athletes and it can be really difficult to manage everything,” Lawlor explained. There is a stigma that student athletes are not supposed to have mental health issues which only makes dealing with one more challenging for them. If this idea could be abandoned, student athletes would greatly benefit by having more outlets to receive help and less pressure on them at all times. For those who are struggling with mental illness, there are resources available. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255.