Destigmatizing mental health in sports

Everson Griffen
Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen waves to the fans as he elves the field following the final game.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News

Mental health is often viewed as a taboo subject in professional sports. Star athletes are expected to have superhuman strength and unbreakable will, but even they are not immune to anxiety and depression.

Most professional sports leagues have resources that current and retired players can utilize, should they find themselves struggling, but there is still a stigma surrounding seeking out help for mental health issues.

Many athletes fear that their mental health concerns could negatively impact their reputation and future contract negotiations. This hasn't stopped sports stars such as Serena Williams, Michael Phelps, Kevin Love, Demar Derozan and Brandon Marshall from speaking up about their experiences with mental health.

"There has to be cultural competence when it comes to working with an athlete and a performer, because the reality is there are certain measures and certain interventions that you might do from a clinical standpoint that gets them to a point where they're OK from a well-being standpoint, but also could have detrimental effects on their ability to perform well," said Dr. Angel Brutus.

Recommended Reading: These athletes nix the notion that mental illness makes you weak


Brent Walker is the former President of The Association for Applied Sport Psychology

Dr. Angel Brutus is the Director of Counseling and Sport Psychology at Mississippi University

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