Mental Health in Sports

The coronavirus pandemic has made its presence known across all angles of the world, infecting millions of people and leaving even more without work. But for many who struggle with mental health conditions like anxiety or depression, an additional battle is taking place while much of the world remains quarantined at their homes.

Many athletes, such as Kevin Love, star forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and former Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, spoke about mental health during the coronavirus pandemic over the last few months.

As someone who deals with anxiety on a regular basis, I can say isolation will take a toll on one’s mental health. Keeping busy is one of the best remedies for anxiety and depression. It eases one’s mind and pushes one’s focus on things other than one’s thoughts.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love has been extremely open on his struggles with mental health in recent years, making him one of the first NBA players in history to do so.

In 2018, Love opened up about his anxiety and panic attacks in an article with The Players’ Tribune.

“I have a lot more clarity about where I'm headed, and where we're headed as a society in terms of removing the stigma from mental health issues. We still treat mental illness so differently from a physical illness. If you had a heart condition, you'd see a doctor and you'd take the necessary steps to fix the problem. Why should it be any different with mental health?” he said.

Love also created an email address in order for fans to reach out to the star athlete to ask for advice and coping mechanisms in order to take on each day.

Through my own personal experience, coping with anxiety is one of the most difficult, confusing matters to deal with. Mental health is not a weakness. We as individuals cannot control the thoughts that enter our minds, but we can take control of how we react to those certain thoughts.

In an interview with NBC Sports, Phelps also opened up on his battle with mental health.

“There are a ton of people fighting the exact same thing. It doesn't matter what you went through, where you've come from or what you want to be,” he said. “Nothing can hold you back. You just need to learn the tricks that work for you and then stick with them, believe in them, to keep yourself from getting into a negative cycle.”

As more and more athletes speak up about their fight with mental health, it makes more people aware of the pain individuals suffer from on a daily basis. Love and Phelps are only two of many who have spoken up about this.

It’s important not to neglect one’s mental health. It guides our thought patterns, how we feel, and at times how we behave. Yet many people don’t care for their mental health for a variety of reasons. As more celebrities speak on their own experiences, it gives everyone the ability to realize they are not alone.

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