Sports psychologist on how to support athletes struggling with mental health

 Sports psychologist on how to support athletes struggling with mental health

BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) – At least five NCAA athletes have died of suicide since March of 2022, leaving five families grieving and five teams wondering how to cope. These deaths have sparked a larger discussion surrounding mental health, and the unique struggles faced by student-athletes.

Dr. Karen Cogan, a sports psychologist for the United States Olympic Committee and former student-athlete, joined First News of the Four to discuss how people can show support for athletes they know.

According to Cogan, the stigma of talking about mental health has diminished since his days as a college gymnast.

“You see more high profile athletes talking about mental health concerns and even if there’s a stigma around it, I think we’re talking now and the athletes are asking for help, so I think we are progressing there., ”Cogan explained.

However, there are some athletes who are not sure how to come for help. Warning signs that friends and family can look for are changes in personality or hygiene issues. Listening to what they have to say, some people may be cunning-or less cunning-revealing that they are struggling.

Cogan advised not to rush any athletes to open up about their mental health journey, saying “everyone has their own path to getting the help they need.”

Some athletes may want to talk first with family and friends and others prefer to share their story with a trained professional like Cogan.

Although friends and family may be excited to help, Cogan thinks if it’s not a life-threatening issue, “it’s important to leave it to the athlete to do it on their own time.”

While loved ones in life should not force anything, they can always provide encouragement and suggest resources.

“Sometimes it just takes a few tries for someone to get the right kind of professional help,” Cogan said.

If there is a life-threatening issue, it is important to help that person immediately-even if they are relatively unresponsive.

For 24/7 free and confidential support for people in distress call 800-273-8255 or visit this website.

See the full player interview above.

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