Mental health can be an intimidating topic, in part because many people don’t fully understand what it entails. In the broadest sense, mental health includes a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being.

While potential mental health issues can affect people in all walks of life, including athletes, the good news is that help is available and problems can get better. The key for parents and coaches of young athletes is to recognize when a young player needs help.

“People are so anxious, unnecessarily, about asking questions about mental health,” said Elizabeth Jorgensen, a certified alcohol and drug counselor. “The first and best question is, ‘hey, how are you doing? Is everything alright?’” 

Signs and symptoms may include unexplained changes in activities of daily living, as well as changes in temperament, persistent tardiness for games, practices, and workouts, and unusual disorganization.

“It’s important to recognize that these signs and symptoms can manifest differently in different athletes,” said Kellie Loehr of Medstar Sport Medicine and head athletic trainer for US Lacrosse. “One athlete may present completely different than another athlete.”

Getting an athlete who needs help connected with the proper resources should be the primary goal for adults.

“It’s important to recognize that there’s someone who can handle this more appropriately than I can,” Loehr said.

Jorgensen and Loehr recently shared their insights in a video presentation, “Understanding Mental Health in Young Athletes,” the newest installment in the US Lacrosse/Medstar Sports Medicine Health & Performance Series.

Video Resources

The Center for Sport Science at US Lacrosse seeks to expand, broaden and elevate the safety initiatives that the national governing body has been committed to since its creation in 1998.

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