Studies show anxiety, eating disorders affect athletes disproportionately
Mental health impacts on athletes
MADISON, Wis. — Mental illness does not discriminate and athletes are no exception and sometimes even more likely to battle it, according to a University of Wisconsin-Madison psychiatrist.
Dr. Claudia Reardon, a psychiatrist at University Health Service, said mental illness can affect athletes of all levels, especially elite athletes. Last week, 23-year-old Olympic cyclist Kelly Catlin died by suicide in her college residence, shedding more light on how mental illness impacts this group of people.
“I really want to emphasize that there is significant and ever-increasing research that demonstrates that athletes are not immune to mental illness,” Reardon said.
Studies show that eating disorders, sleep disorders and anxiety affect athletes disproportionately compared the general population, Reardon explained.
The NCAA has made mental health a priority, helping to ensure collegiate athletes get the care they need. The organization provides educational resources and inter-association best practices and tools that offer a model of care for student-athlete mental health.
“We strive to improve access to quality mental health care with the goal of creating a culture where care seeking for mental health issues is as normative as care seeking for physical injuries,” the NCAA states on their website.
For their part, UW Athletics employs psychologist that are directly available to student-athletes. However, mental illness can impact athletes at all levels, and coaches and parents should pay attention to their athlete’s behavior even when they’re not competing.
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