Why Are College Athletes At Risk Of Mental Illness?

A former Ohio State football player, Harry Miller, made headlines when he announced that he would no longer be playing the game due to severe mental health issues.

Miller, who talks about playing football as a kid because he likes it and it’s “just football,” told Carson Daly he was depressed and anxious when he was a teenager. Miller had suicidal thoughts then.

Things changed for Miller when he realized he might be able to use his skills to get into college. He remembered a coach telling him about the NFL.

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He said, “At that moment, I don’t know; you feel the weight of the hand you’ve been dealt. Some of those prophecies feel like death sentences.”

Earlier this year, three college athletes died by suicide, including Katie Meyer, Sarah Shulze, and Lauren Burnett, reminiscing Miller’s story with refreshing honesty and openness.

Perfectionism, depression, and ambition can set up young people for mental health challenges, underscoring the negative pressure to live up to expectations.

What Makes Perfectionism Dysfunctional?

Randy P. Auerbach, the associate professor, told TODAY that high standards and excessive self-criticism are defining characteristics of perfectionism.

Auerbach said, “You can imagine that that can be motivating to a point for many people.”

Dr. Igor Galynker describes multiple types of perfectionism, including high expectations for others or oneself and the sense that society has high expectations for them.

Suicide Risk Concerning Perfectionism

The perfectionist can be so hard on himself that he doesn’t meet his goals, “or he suffers a huge loss.”

There is a long history of research linking perfectionism to mental health issues, such as depression and suicide.

Adolescents who excel may not receive the support and skills they need to cope with life’s inevitable ups and downs.

Plan And Advocate For Young Adults

Auerbach says adolescents need a balance of activities and healthy habits that naturally flow when they live at home.

Kids will have to develop their routines as they get older and go to college.

Additionally, assure kids that they can get mental health help if needed, whether from reliable teachers, coaches, or the counseling center at their college.