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Mental Health in Athletes

We marvel at their athletic abilities. We praise them for their triumphs and curse them for their mistakes. Athletes are constantly in the spotlight and their lives revolve around their sport.

While we know that being a professional athlete takes a toll on their bodies and they typically have a career expiration date because of this, what about their minds? An athlete’s mental health is all too often ignored.

Prevalence of Athletes with Mental Illness

Our mental health treatment in Boca understands what many people tend to forget. Because of intense pressure, the spotlight, serious physical injuries, and crazy schedules, many athletes’ mental health is poor.

Athletes with mental illnesses are more common than you may think. Former and current professional athletes with mental illnesses who have come out about their problems include Michael Phelps, Terry Bradshaw, Clark Carlisle, Imani Boyette, and Allison Schmitt. There are also many more. Research suggests that the prevalence of just anxiety or depression alone in current elite athletes is 34% and 26% for former elite athletes.1 In contrast, the prevalence of any mental illness for adults in the United States in a given year is 20%.2

It isn’t just professional athletes who suffer. Negative mental health in athletes can be a problem for all levels. One study found that as many as 23.7% of college athletes experienced depressive symptoms that reach clinically relevant levels, and 6.3% have moderate to severe depression.3 Even serious high school athletes have been found to struggle with their mental health. While sports have been found to have many benefits, one study found that many student athletes reported higher levels of negative emotional states than their peers who were not involved in sports.4

Along with poor mental health in athletes, substance abuse is another problem that can go hand-in-hand with addiction. Some of these athletes will turn to drugs or alcohol to escape their troubles, while others will get caught up in the party lifestyle and develop an addiction. Either way, when both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse problem are present, treatment for both is necessary. Our South Florida dual diagnosis treatment will help patients address both of these issues together.

Whether you are a professional athlete or the extent of your athletic ability is shooting a paper ball into the trashcan, it is okay to enter into a mental health PHP or other mental health treatment program.




At Banyan Mental Health, we work with patients who struggle with various mental health disorders in different degrees of severity, and we want to help you. Reach out to us today at 888-280-4763 to get started.


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  1. British Journal of Sports Medicine – Occurrence of mental health symptoms and disorders in current and former elite athletes: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  2. NAMI – Mental Health By The Numbers
  3. NCBI – Prevalence of clinically elevated depressive symptoms in college athletes and differences by gender and sport.
  4. Journal of Athletic Training – Interassociation Recommendations for Developing a Plan to Recognize and Refer Student-Athletes With Psychological Concerns at the Secondary School Level: A Consensus Statement
Alyssa
Alyssa
Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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