research shows it’s often harder for athletes; they tend to be high achievers, are often perfectionists, and play in high-stakes, high-pressure environments where self-esteem can be closely tied to performance outcomes.
It’s no wonder having a healthy mental life is a struggle.
Reading: Athlete mental health quotes
It used to be a fight that was resolved in private, or just not resolved at all. there was shame associated with showing weakness. however, the good news is that more athletes are speaking out about mental health issues and progress is being made. The NBA and NFL have implemented mental health initiatives, and most professional teams now have sports psychologists on staff.
Still, it’s hard for athletes to admit mental health issues because it’s just hard to be vulnerable. That’s why it’s encouraging to listen when athletes talk.
To that end, here are eight mental health quotes from athletes to inspire you to be honest about yours.
1. michael phelps, american olympic swimmer
“For a long time, I thought asking for help was a sign of weakness because that’s what society teaches us. that’s especially true from an athlete’s perspective. if we ask for help, then we are not this great macho athlete that people can look up to. well, you know what? If someone wants to call me weak for asking for help, that’s their problem. because I’m saving my own life.”
Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time, but that didn’t stop him from battling severe depression. he now he is an advocate of openness and dealing.
2. amanda barba, american olympic swimmer
“Know that you are not alone, there are millions of people across the country and around the world who are experiencing the same things you are.”
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just like phelps, the beard is an olympic gold medalist. she hid her depression from her for years before working up the courage to talk about it publicly.
3. serena williams, tennis star
“I like communication better. talking things over with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal.”
Serena Williams is arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, but after the birth of her son in 2017, she struggled with postpartum depression. She discussed how difficult it is to be vulnerable in an Instagram post and reiterated the benefit of open communication.
4. mardy fish, american tennis player
“mental health is not something very easy to talk about in sports. it is not perceived as very masculine. we are so trained to be “mentally tough” in sports. to show weakness, we are told, in so many words, is to deserve shame. But I’m here to show weakness. and I am not ashamed.”
mardy fish was in the top 10 tennis players, but he suffered from panic attacks and anxiety. she has spoken of the difficulty of opening up due to the perception that athletes should not be weak.
5. dak prescott, dallas cowboys quarterback
“if I hadn’t talked about those things with the people I talked to, I wouldn’t have realized that my friends and a lot more people go through them, and they’re as common as they are.”
dak prescott made headlines in early 2020 for speaking openly about her depression after losing her brother to suicide and her mother to cancer. she points out that it is important to realize that he is not alone in the fight against mental health.
6. rick ankiel, baseball player
“for athletes, you should try to turn every stone possible to be the best you can be. So if there is a doctor or counselor who can help you, why not turn that stone? having a culture conducive to mental health is great. I think we’re getting there. almost every team (mlb) has a psychology department. I’m glad we’re starting to understand. we’re all human, and I think the more we talk about mental health, the better.”
rick ankiel was a standout pitcher who developed a case of “yips” and became unable to throw accurately. he ended up leaving the game, but eventually returned as an outfielder. he now he is an advocate to get help and improve.
7. kevin love, basketball player
“everyone is going through something we can’t see. The thing is, because we can’t see it, we don’t know who is going through what and we don’t know when and we don’t always know why. Mental health is something invisible, but it touches us all at some point or another. It’s part of life.”
kevin love won an nba championship and was named to the all-star teams, but deep down, he faced a constant battle with depression. he wrote a powerful article in the Player Tribune detailing his journey and encouraging others to be open about mental health.
8. demar derozan, basketball player
“never be ashamed of wanting to be better than yourself, period.”
i think this quote from demar derozan is a good one to end with, both because it sums things up so well and because his opening was the impetus for the current movement in the nba. It was a tweet from Derozan that inspired Kevin Love to speak out about her depression, and the two advocated for mental health awareness, leading to the NBA’s mental health care initiatives.
do you need help with mental health as an athlete?
You should know that support is available to you as you face mental health challenges. if you’re struggling, come closer. The world is a tough place, and as the above quotes clearly show, you are not alone.
I am available for virtual counseling and training sessions if you want to overcome your mental health barriers. I have worked with elite athletes in the world’s top sports leagues (including the NBA and NFL) and have helped student athletes improve their performance through mental training.
Let’s talk about your goals, whether you want to achieve peak sports performance or just feel better mentally. or both.