Millions of students have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true for student-athletes. Rehab from injuries may be put on hold, structured schedules and routines are now gone, and for many of these athletes, their careers have been cut short prematurely. Earlier this week, Active Minds hosted a panel featuring mental health professionals and student-athletes from ACC schools to discuss student-athlete mental health amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are four key take-aways from the Q&A:
1. Stay connected.
One of the big things you may be missing is that camaraderie with your teammates and coaches with whom you spent almost every day back on campus. While nothing can truly replicate those in-person interactions, use those team Zoom calls as a way to stay in touch. Better yet, have calls to talk about things that have nothing to do with school, COVID, or any athletic business and enjoy each other’s virtual company.
2. Keep up relationships with those you trust.
As mentioned in the webinar, these people can be folks who are totally outside your team, such as academic support staff or anyone else in the department. They can assist in connecting you to help if you need it. If your school has a student-athlete council, finding community with members of that council can also be helpful as a way to voice concerns to those in higher positions within the department.
3. Find ways to take mental breaks.
Now that everything’s done from home, the line between your work and relaxation spaces is probably blurred to some extent, if not nonexistent. Another thing you may be missing are those shorter moments to unwind right after class or practice, such as the walk back to your dorm room. One thing you could do is try and replicate those breaks by taking a walk around the block after class, or setting the boundary of not starting something new immediately after finishing an online class or project. Just because you may have more time on your hands doesn’t mean that you have to make use of every single second.
4. Grieve what you can’t control. Focus on what you can control.
It’s more than okay to grieve those things that you no longer have control over; in fact, it’s human nature to feel that way. But what you can control is what you do in this moment. As mentioned in the panel, there is no best way to go about a pandemic, but there are things we can do to make it easier and keep some sense of normalcy, given the circumstances. Whether that’s focusing more on academics, finding creative ways to stay connected with friends and teammates, or just surviving, you are doing the best you can.
Watch the recorded webinar:
- Kristen Mackel, LCSW, Lead Clinical Counselor, University of Pittsburgh Athletics
- Dr. Bailey Nevels, Coordinator of Psychological Health Services for Student-Athletes, Clemson University
- Courtney Jones, student-athlete, Clemson University
Moderator: Laura Horne, MPH, Chief Program Officer, Active Minds
Sponsored by: Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)