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Student-Athletes could struggle with mental Illness: Tips for parents on how to help reduce anxiety

We talked with a counselor about the potential effects of anxiety on student athletes. During the pandemic, the effects could be even stronger.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — EDIT August 2020: Schools are trying to find the best way to keep students safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Although most schools are embracing virtual or hybrid learning models to start off the 2020-2021 school year, Alabama high school sports are still scheduled to take place.

Student athletes can struggle with mental illness during a regular year. With the added stress of the pandemic, students could be left feeling overwhelmed. Here's some information for parents: 

WATCH: ALABAMA HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS WILL START ON TIME THIS FALL

Students who are involved in a number of extracurricular activities often have feelings of extreme stress. They often feel the pressure to overachieve in every activity they’re involved in. This is especially true with student athletes. A small amount of stress or tension can push an athlete to compete harder and might be beneficial to their athletic performance, but too much for any student, especially student-athletes, can result in sickness, injury, lack of academic motivation, or depression. 

Participating in sports, or joining a club while in school, can be great motivation to keep grades up and stay productive. But, it can also turn into a source of pressure for students to excel.

We sat with Shannan Roberts from Counseling Associates of Huntsville and talked about the potential effects of anxiety on students who are involved on and off of their campuses. 

Roberts says that first, it’s important to pay attention to any subtle changes in your child’s behavior. She adds that sometimes parents can actually worsen the issue. Sometimes, parents have created patterns of behavior in their children from the early days of participating in sports. From prioritizing sports over school or the child’s personal interests, to criticizing the child’s performance in a game after loss, the effects can be harmful and these habits are hard to break. 

Roberts has this to say: “Parents need to understand that their children are students too, and they need that support. That one sport or that one class is not going to be the ‘end all be all’… do not have unrealistic expectations of your children and just talk to them.”

If you notice that your child who “does it all” may be suffering from anxiety, excessive stress, or depression; be sure to reach out to a counselor or therapist for more information. 

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