Seeking Mental Health Services

Stigma, for athletes and others seeking help for mental health, is finally fading. Plenty of factors play into this. More people (including elite athletes like Kevin Love, Michael Phelps, and Elena Delle Donne) talking about mental health helps “normalize” it. Elite sports programs (e.g., NBA, NFL, and NCAA) are hiring full-time practitioners to address it. The consequences of not addressing it are too severe to ignore (e.g., suicides of athletes such as Penn State runner Madison Holleran or Olympic bicyclist Kelly Catlin). And increasingly, people acknowledge a continuum between mental health and mental performance. For instance, it is often more difficult to perform with unbridled anxiety (whether clinical or subclinical levels). Psychotherapy/counseling has the primary goal of improving mental health (and as a bi-product performance may improve), whereas mental performance coaching aims to improve performance (and as a bi-product mental health may improve). Most anyone can benefit from psychotherapy or mental performance coaching. If you see signs of distress, even if they might be “sub-clinical symptoms,” explore meeting with a professional! Common diagnoses addressed psychotherapy/counseling include adjustment disorders (the “common cold of mental health”), anxiety disorders, and depression.