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The Black Athlete's Mental Health

Updated: Mar 8, 2023



For Black History Month, TAP would like to dedicate and briefly discuss a topic we feel closely tied to, that isn't discussed enough, or in enough depth, to one of the industries we pride ourselves in loving and taking part in. The world of sports, and the athletes that drive it. The Black athlete, and, their mental health.



MENTAL HEALTH IN SPORTS


The mental health of athletes regardless of their race or ethnicity is a topic that has gained increasing attention in recent years. However, the mental health of Black athletes is a particularly important issue to discuss, and what better time? Black athletes face unique challenges and pressures that can impact their mental well-being on and off the field or court.


The experiences of black athletes in predominantly white sporting environments (some may disagree) can be isolating and alienating. The lack of representation and systemic barriers to opportunities can leave them feeling marginalized and excluded. This has been particularly apparent in the NFL & MLB, where front offices are dominated by blue-collar white males and the playing fields by young Black, Afro-Latino, and Asian athletes. The stress of being the only person of color on a team or in competition can exacerbate feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Maybe even take your voice away. This pressure can be further intensified by the added burden of being a role model for other black youths, adults, and athletes within the black community. In fact, one of the biggest challenges that black athletes face is the pressure to perform at a high level, both for themselves and for the communities they represent. Many feel that they are not just representing themselves, but also their race and/or culture.


Furthermore, Black athletes may also experience imposter syndrome, which is the feeling that they do not belong or that they are not good enough. This is a common experience for people of color in predominantly white spaces, including the sports world. Black athletes may feel like they have to work twice as hard as their white counterparts just to prove themselves.



DISCRIMINATION IN SPORTS



America has had its history, and historically, Black athletes have faced discrimination and inequality in the sports world forever. From Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball in 1947 to Colin Kaepernick and the most recent protests against police brutality and racial injustice, Black athletes have used their platforms to fight for social justice and equality. However, this fight can come at a cost to their mental health, physical well-being, and job or means to take care of their families in some cases.


In addition to facing discrimination and racism both on and off the field, they may be subjected to racist comments and actions from fans, coaches, and even other athletes in and within their own locker rooms causing feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness. The inability to speak out or seek support for fear of repercussions can compound these negative emotions, leading to mental health issues such as depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.


In the NFL, an ABC article states that brain health is not just a concern for football players, but everyday African Americans being that they are 1.5 to 2 times more likely than their white counterparts to develop Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias, according to the National Institutes of Health. Black men are also four times more likely to die of suicide than Black women -- something that often happens because of mental illness, according to NIH. It is important to acknowledge the systemic barriers and pressures they face and provide them with the support and resources they need to thrive both on and off the field.


AWARENESS & SUPPORT



Given these challenges, it is important for Black athletes to prioritize their mental health. This may involve seeking out support from mental health professionals, developing self-care practices, and finding a support network of friends and family members who understand their experiences. It may also involve speaking out against racism and discrimination in the sports world and advocating for greater representation and inclusivity.


In recent years, there has been a growing movement to raise awareness about the mental health of athletes and to provide resources and support to help them cope with the unique challenges they face. This includes initiatives like the NBA's Mental Health and Wellness Program, which offers players access to mental health resources and support. By prioritizing the mental health of black athletes, we can ensure that they can continue to excel in their sports and be positive role models for future generations.




The mental health of Black athletes is an important issue that deserves attention and action. Black athletes face unique challenges and pressures that can impact their mental well-being, and it is essential that they have access to resources and support to help them cope. By prioritizing mental health and advocating for greater inclusivity and representation in the sports world, we can create a more supportive and equitable environment for Black athletes to thrive. For clarity, this article is not to dismiss our White, Asian, or other ethnic brothers and sisters. It is simply to raise awareness of the issues that lie in and within the sports industry alone.


To seek help for you or a friend, please see the link below and do not hesitate to reach out for support https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members Remember, you always have someone to lean on and talk to.


As always, please remember to support your local black-owned brand, (Tolerance Amongst People) at our shop www.toleranceamongstpeople.com/shop






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