Basketball is Psychology LV
About 1 in 5 people are currently struggling with a mental illness. For athletes, that number is 1 in 3.
We say mental health is just as important as physical health, but do we really mean that? Think about it, what happens when an athlete gets injured? They see a doctor and they rest and recover until they are fully healthy enough to return to play. What happens when an athlete is depressed? What happens when an athlete has an anxiety attack? Do they get to rest and recover until they are healthy enough to play? No, they still have to go to practice as if they are fine.
We say it’s okay not to be okay, but we don’t give athletes the space to not be okay. What a lot of coaches mean when they say, “It’s okay not to be okay,” is, “It’s okay not to be okay, as long as it doesn’t interfere with practice.” But what if it does?
What if we didn’t just say it’s okay not to be okay, what if we gave athletes the space not to be okay? What if we gave athletes a mental health day? What if we gave our athletes at least 1 day of the year where we don’t ask any questions and just let them rest and recover from what they’re going through mentally?
With 33% of athletes in a current struggle with a mental illness, you can’t afford to not give your athletes a mental health day. Not only will it help your athletes rest, it will help them feel seen. It will help them know that you care about them as a person, not just as a basketball player.
Give space for athletes to not be okay. Mental health matters; let's not just say it, let's act like it.