The Importance of Mental Health for Athletes: Insights from Shelly Qualtieri Counselling & Associates, Calgary - Alberta

athletes canada celebrity athletes coaching mental health mental health blog sports counselling Apr 13, 2023
A photo of an athlete looking overwhelmed at their workout



As athletes try to perform at their best physically, we know that their mental health is just as important to their success. At Shelly Qualtieri Counseling & Associates, we know that athletes face unique challenges, especially in today's world, and we've seen firsthand how these challenges can affect their mental health. As licensed professionals in sports psychology and depression counselling in Calgary, we are fully committed to assisting athletes in maintaining their mental wellness and reaching their full potential both on and off the field. 


In today’s blog, we will give insights into the importance of mental health from our team of sports counsellors, who are rooting for you to win not only in the game but in life! These strategies can be used when talking to your coach, your team, your family, and anyone else who should care about your overall well being, because it's not just about achieving victory - it's also about finding balance ​​both in your athletic pursuits and your daily life.


 So, let's dive in below and discover how you can prioritise your mental health as an athlete.


The Importance of Mental Health for Athletes - With Celebrity Examples


Recent studies by the NCAA show that the rates of mental exhaustion, anxiety, and depression among student-athletes are 1.5–2 times higher than they were before the pandemic and haven't changed much since fall 2020. 


As a matter of fact, several sports superstars have made headlines for prioritising their mental health, serving as role models for athletes and non-athletes alike. Let's look at a few of these examples.


  • Naomi Osaka, a tennis superstar, made headlines in May 2021 when she withdrew from the French Open to prioritise her mental health. She stated, "I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw." [Good Morning America].
  • Simone Biles, a gymnastics superstar, made headlines during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics when she withdrew from several events to prioritise her mental health. She stated, "I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and wellbeing." [CNBC].
  • Lastly, in July 2021, basketball superstar Kevin Love stated, "Mental health isn't just an athlete thing. What you do for a living doesn't have to define who you are. This is an everyone thing." [The Players Tribune].

These are just some examples, but remember, if your favourite sports superstars can prioritise their mental health, why can't you do the same? Even though it might seem intimidating at first, it is possible to become the athlete you want to be without sacrificing your sanity. And when it feels impossible, don’t be afraid to look back at these examples for hope.

Practical Advice from Shelly Qualtieri and Associates


Now let’s get into some practical advice to help you achieve and maintain good mental health as an athlete. Remember that these tips are in no way a substitute for seeking professional counselling, but rather something that can inspire you as you begin your journey. Here are some simple ways you can centre your mental health daily.


  • Self-care should be a priority, so make sure you get plenty of exercise, eat right, and don’t be afraid to relax.
  • Build a support network of friends, family, coaches, and mental health professionals who want to see you win in every aspect of your life.
  • Set realistic goals around yourself and focus on making progress rather than seeking perfection.
  • Don’t be afraid to seek help when needed, whether it's through counselling, therapy, or other mental health services.

5 Things You Can Say To Advocate for Mental Health 

We know that all of this may sound easier said than done, especially if you're on a team or in a place where mental health isn't a priority. If you’re not able to easily apply these tips due to your current situation, that’s ok! The most important thing we want you to take away from this post is some simple tools to be your own mental health advocate. To further aid with this, here are 5 simple things you can say to protect your peace of mind.


  1. "I need help with my mental health"
  2. "I want to prioritise my mental health and well-being."
  3. "I need a break to take care of my mental health."
  4. "I want to be part of a supportive team environment that values mental health."
  5. "I want to learn more about mental health resources available to me.


Conclusion: Take Care of Your Mental Health and Achieve Your Goals


Taking care of your mental health is essential for your overall well-being and achieving your goals. If you need help taking care of your mental health, our team at Shelly Qualtieri & Associates is here for you!

Don’t hesitate to book a consultation with us and take the first step towards achieving your mental health goals. Remember, while it may feel like the final score of a game is everything, it's important to keep in mind that ultimately, living a fulfilling and healthy life is the truest and most meaningful measure of success.


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