There have been arguments for both sides saying whether being part of a sports team helps or hurts your mental health. I have my own personal beliefs about the issue, but I had the chance to interview a student athlete to get his point of view on the situation.
Jalen Johnson is a member of the Ragin’ Cajun men’s basketball team. I had the chance to talk to him about his opinions on the issue.
I first wanted to see if the university takes mental health seriously for their athletes. I know regular students have the health and wellness center at their disposal to get counseling if needed, but I wanted to see if there was anything extra for athletes.
At least for the basketball team, along with the on campus services, they also have a counselor just for their team.
“We’re always obligated to go to the on-campus people,” Johnson said. “There’s also a counselor in our training room that we can go see anytime; I know she’s there in the back office.”
For Johnson, being part of a team is a big pro for a real world lifestyle.
“It builds great life skills. I think it’s good for the workforce outside of sports. Like, when you get done with school, being a part of a team, you’re going to join another team so you kinda know what it’s like to deal with people and different attitudes,” Johnson said.
He also said he believes the exercise, though sometimes exhausting, is beneficial.
“I think it helps you out mentally and physically,” Johnson said.
There are studies that say exercise helps your mental health. According to helpguide, exercise is a powerful medicine for many common health challenges.
“Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better and boosts your overall mood,” helpguide says.
The only con Johnson found was managing your student-athlete lifestyle, which can sometimes be hard.
“I don’t think anything is a con per se, except for time management,” Johnson said.
I asked about what a typical schedule looked like for Johnson. He stays busy.
“So right now, I wake up around 6 a.m., eat breakfast, I have an internship at 8 to 12, class from 1 to 2:15, practice from 3 to 6, dinner from 7 to 8, then I have to manage to do close to three hours of homework within two hours, then try to sleep” Johnson said.
“That’s every single day,” he added. “Add this to the game days and try to fit in test days, social life and reaching out to a counselor if need be, it becomes a lot.”
Though Johnson doesn’t see many cons to being a part of a team, he knows that, just like any other person, student athletes go through mental health issues.
“Oh yeah, a lot of people experience some type of mental issue, whether it be during season, post season, finals week, midterm week. It doesn’t really matter,” Johnson said.
“Whether they admit to it, or go get help about it, that’s up to them, but every athlete goes through something,” Johnson said.