Ending the stigma: Mental health in college sports

(Photo courtesy University of Arizona athletic department.)

By Jacob Lev

Arizona in Focus is a podcast from Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS. Each season we dive deep into a particular topic or story to bring you stories you haven’t heard elsewhere. Check out the rest of our episodes here, and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Soundcloud.

Mental health is a touchy subject for many. For athletes, issues can arise from high expectations, injury, or just overall poor play. Expectations are high to perform well on a daily basis.

Giac-Thao (Alisia Tran), a psychologist at Arizona State, Gabe Bourland, the director of Sports Performance at Grand Canyon University, and TJ Vernieri, a former University of Connecticut football player, share their thoughts. All will talk about not just how to break the stigma but also how colleges are helping these student-athletes overcome the distress they might be experiencing.

In a brief statement from Tran, she mentions that these 17- and 18-year-old athletes have cardboard cutouts of their faces. Twenty years ago, that wasn’t the case. These young athletes now have sky-high expectations to perform at the standards that 30-year-old athletes face. It could be a recipe for disaster.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. If you or someone you know is having trouble, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Available 24 hours a day.

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