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Student Athlete Mental Health During the Pandemic

CHATTANOOGA, TENN (mocsnews.com) – The Covid-19 pandemic has rocked just about every aspect of our world the past year and a half, and higher education has been no different. The danger presented by the virus has forced higher education institutions to redesign their curriculum, all at the cost of added stress to students.

Some of the hardest hit by these new changes have been student athletes. Student athletes already have to deal with the struggles of juggling seasons, conditioning, public spotlight, and academics. Adding a health risk that is heightened when traveling or in physical contact with another person, the worries can start to pile up.

“Having to go get tested twice a day. The stress of not knowing if you were going to be positive or negative. Whether you were symptomatic or not… it was crazy.” Said Rebekah Pass, a sophomore for UTC’s cross country and track team. Last year was her first season in colligate sports and while most freshman athletes have to worry about seeing playing time, she had to worry everyday on whether or not there would be a season at all.

Jaden Frazier, a redshirt freshman for Mocs Basketball experienced the same thing. “We never knew who we were going to play. Then we would prepare for one team and another team could show up because the team that we were going to play got Covid.” This constant feeling of never know what to expect certainly added stress Frazier said.

The effects of this trend have been felt in programs across the country. The NCAA conducted a survey over the 2020 sports seasons on the impact Covid-19 has had on colligate athletes. They found that the Covid-19 pandemic and the health risks associated with it made up the second largest factor negatively impacting Student athletes in 2020, with 36% of female athletes and 22% of male athletes expressing concern for the pandemic.

NCAA research on the impact of Covid-19 on Student athletes during the 2020 sports seasons

UTC has recognized this issue and taken steps to address it. They have an athletic counselor on staff who specializes in the unique issues that student athletes face.

“Having that extra person who is a professional in that area. Who has been an athlete themselves. Who knows the stress. Who knows the constant grind of being a student athlete. It’s defiantly helpful.” Said Rebekah. She said she takes advantage of that resource every week and finds it very helpful as she navigates school, sports, and the pandemic.

Jaden Frazier also uses those resources made available by the university for student athletes. His reason why he stated, “There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes that people can’t see” and these resources are very useful.

According to G. Keilan Rickard, the director of the counselling center at UTC, the university offers a number of resources, including individual and group therapy sessions, electronic resources such as telehealth options and free access for students to Sanvello, an app that provides on-demand help for anxiety, depression, and stress, and presentations and workshops devoted to helping students manage stress.

Anyone interested in finding out more information about the counseling center and the resources they offer should visit their website at www.utc.edu or check out this video by the counseling center.

UTC Counseling Center

About Will Mcelyea

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