Sep 1, 2020
Without Sports, College Athletes Have Higher Depression Rates

According to multiple recent studies, some college student-athletes who have missed out on their respective seasons have been experiencing symptoms of depression.

For many college student-athletes, sports aren’t simply an extracurricular activity. It’s a way of life, an outlet of expression to release the tensions built up from the outside world. With sports season already postponed, canceled, or altered in some form, studies have shown the ripple effects these decisions have had no student-athletes.

Photo: Woodley Wonder Works / Creative Commons

The study, conducted by the University of North Texas researchers, found that more than 20 percent of nearly 6,000 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) surveyed in April and May were experiencing clinical depression. Additionally, nearly 30 percent were exhibiting some forms of depressive symptoms.

Research also showed that female student-athletes were experiencing depression at a higher rate (25 percent of female athletes surveyed compared to 16 percent of male athletes), but also have a higher rate of disordered eating.

A separate NCAA survey also showed the difficulty student-athletes were facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the more than 30,000 college student-athletes who participated, 1-in-10 were found to have difficulty functioning because of depression as of April and May. Additional results from the study showed that mental health concerns were higher among student-athletes of color — including those who reported housing instability, food insecurity, and lack of access to health care and appropriate facilities to maintain their training while gyms were closed.

» ALSO SEE: Reducing Stress Fractures in Female College Distance Runners

The results from the University of North Texas and NCAA studies are similar to the findings from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention study on mental health released in early August. The study from the CDC showed that young adults aged 18 to 24 are among the groups who have disproportionately reported experiencing worse mental health outcomes.

To help combat this trend, the CDC has recommended implementing public health strategies centered around intervention and prevention efforts of mental health conditions.

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