DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado Rockies pitcher Daniel Bard was recently placed on the injured list to care for his mental health.
This has sparked a conversation about the mental health of professional athletes and youth athletes as well.
“Athletes are humans that have the same frailties, issues around self-esteem and all the other things, family, all the other things that we have,” Dr. Shawn Worthy said.
Worthy is a clinical psychologist at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
“If everything we did, our boss put on Twitter for the whole world to see and comment on,” Worthy said, “whether it’d be good, bad or indifferent” — that stress is unique to the athlete, be they a major leaguer or involved in youth sports.
Worthy lists the stressors that can affect your young athletes’ feelings and behavior.
“They are sensitive to their parents’ expectations and hopes for them,” Worth said. “They’re sensitive to their peer group, they’re sensitive to their teachers and the other people in their school.”
Add to that the stress of performing on the field or court.
Parents should ‘check in’ on youth athletes
Worthy said parents, in addition to being fans, need to be their young athlete’s support.
“Parents have to be the adult and make decisions that are going to be in the best interest of their child, whether their child agrees or not at that point in time,” Worthy said.
The “check-in” is very important to keeping track of their mental health.
“The people who care about you, your parents, your family,” Worthy said, “saying, ‘How are you doing?’ Or watching out for changes in mood and changes in behavior.”
In a national study, researchers at California State University, Fullerton, found that participation in youth sports was linked to fewer mental health difficulties.
That doesn’t mean young athletes won’t still experience it, so doctors say it’s important for parents to stay alert.