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Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Beyond bumps and bruises: How sports can change an athlete's experience with mental health

Credit: WISC
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Beyond bumps and bruises: How sports can change an athlete's experience with mental health
Beyond bumps and bruises: How sports can change an athlete's experience with mental health

For about six years now, Erica Stuart has find her spot on the sidelines of soccer fields – indoor and outdoor – all over the area.

Encouraging kids to talk about their feelings is enough of a challenge... then, add the pressure of being tough, physically and mentally... to keep a starting spot on a team.

It's the kind of stigmthat could make any young athlete shut down.

And that makes it that much more important to take time to talk with your kids.

Here's dannika lewis.

Erica stuart/soccer mom: 0054 knees.

And concussions.

57 they're the worst case scenarios that run through a mom's brain... erica: 0141 well, i don't want him to get hit in the face.

(cringe) 44 as her son runs around on astro-turf.

Erica: 0004 they have a lot of energy and a lot of drive, so they just kind of go for it, where as i'm the mom thinking, don't run into that big kid.

16 erica stuart's son, butter... erica: 5708 his name is william, but he goes by butter, like a stick of butter.

11 okay... anyway, number 9 is 11 years old... which makes six seasons on the sidelines.

Erica: 5914 knocking on wood, he's been pretty lucky.

43 nats - erica: 0105 i've seen a couple of kids have to leave with their parents or via ambulance.

Rare, but it happens.

12 nats - erica: 5953 they all want to play in the world cup.

They all want to be renaldi and messi, so they don't think about that, you know?

58 dr. claudia reardon/uw- madison associate professor of psychiatry: 4407 with every passing year there's more and more pressure.

09 not taking anything away from the kids... but dr. claudia reardon watched her brother endure some of the most intense pressure an athlete can experience... running for team u-s-a.

Dr. reardon: 3210 we're talking even .01 of a second because that can be the difference between fame and fortune and second place when it comes to top-level elite sport.

20 it's what led dr. reardon to a career as a sports psychiatrist.

Currently... she treats any badger who may struggle with the stresses of playing at that level.

Dr. reardon: 3327 it is really hard for the athlete who of course can't show any signs of weakness on the playing field or on the court, right?

The court, right, to then leave the field, leave the court, and be able to admit to themselves, hey i'm not feeling really good.

41 so, even for the younger athletes she helps... dr. reardon changes the language around mental health struggles.

For her, they're injuries.

Dr. reardon: 5014 we need to figure out what kind of treatments we need to give you for this injury, when is the injury sufficiently rehabbed where it's safe for you to fully participate in sport again.

26 even the physical injuries... the ones constantly on erica's mind... nats - ...those can lead to other challenges off the field.

Dr. reardon: 3640 you get a concussion, and suddenly, you're pulled from play.

You worry about your spot getting taken on the team, all sorts of factors, so not necessarily just the underlying biology of the concussion, but that's definitely a risk factor for depression too.

56 okay, we know getting an 5th grade boy to talk about how he's feeling... erica: 0328 does he have feelings?

... yeah... unlikely.

Erica: i have two older girls, and it's not a problem.

So he just doesn't want to talk a lot, so before some of those deeper conversations begin... dr. reardon tries to figure out how someone's sport and their mental health connect.

Dr. reardon: 3748 one, there's something about the sport that caused or worsened the mental illness.

52 nats - dr. reardon: 3756 two, it could be that the sport and the mental illness have nothing to do with each other.

3801 and ththird possibility, dr. reardon says, is that all of the moving, the teamwork, the focus... is a way to cope with mental health challenges.

Dr. reardon: 4656 exercise is a powerful anti-depressant, anti- anxiety intervention.

Nats - erica cheering then, there's what we yell during the game and say after... whatever our favorite player hears has an impact.

Dr. reardon: 4553 i loved watching you play today, which says nothing abo, i loved watching you play because you did a good job and therefore the implication is if you don't do a good job, i don't love watching you play as much.

4603 nats - erica: 0312 you gotta kind of remind them that it's just a game, just for fun.

16 because even if butters isn't always talking about what's going on inside his head... erica will be right outside the wall... yes, worrying... 0317 you know even if i'm cheering out here, it's still for fun.

19 but always looking out for her #1, number 9.

Tue003501 -- 5215 nats - come on butter!

Go bud!

(butter scores, erica cheering) dannika lewis, wisc news 3.

If you're looking for other resources or ways to talk about thtopic of mental health... you can always go to our time to talk page.

Our partners at s-s-m health help with weekly tips... advice from doctors... and more.

Just go to channel3000- dot-com slash time for kids.

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