Mental health and it’s importance to professional athletes

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John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s applaud Kevin Love, DeMar DeRozan, Marcus and Markieff Morris (and more) for speaking up and out on mental health. Too often we get caught up in our every day lives expressing the good, and keeping the bad bottled up. Athletes are human too. They experience hunger, pain, joyfulness, and depression. If John Doe on Park Avenue can seek out help, why can’t the athletes too?

Our first thoughts when it comes to professional athletes frequently are centered around their unique talent and physical shape. Yes, many of them are specimens of the highest order. However, that doesn’t mean they have it all together mentally. The money, the fame, and the lifestyle can only mask the deep-rooted issues they face daily. Recently in a series of pieces written by ESPN Senior Writer Jackie MacMullan, the aforementioned players discussed their varying levels of mental distress. If you’ve been around a locker room, you’re likely aware of the type of “man” players are expected to be. Career threatening injuries, deaths, births and even mental breakdowns, they play through it all.

The main goal in any professional league is to win, most times by any means necessary. From offseason workouts to the preseason, we see all summer league highlight reels. Players are working on their game to better contribute to their team the following season. It is imperative that the mind also hits the reset button to recharge and prepare for the next marathon. Without mental wellness, one could imagine that it would be difficult to “get your head in the game”. Their focus would be lost, anxiety could kick in, and a player could just not be themselves. Once one the court production begins to decline, it becomes apparent that help is required.

Together, as a society, we can assist in changing the dialect and the stigma that comes along with mental wellness. We need to understand that it’s not the typical “shrug it off” situation that people can keep pushing past. Mental instability disables an individual’s thoughts and physical wellness. It shows up in all forms and no one is immune. As we continue to get more educated on the different types of mental instability, the better we’ll be able to help those in need. Kudos to those increasing awareness.

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