Are you a youth hockey coach? Or, maybe you’re a parent of a player or a volunteer who regularly interacts with the athletes. Whatever the case may be, it’s a good idea to be aware of the warning signs of a potential mental health issue with your players.
Today’s young athletes are under tremendous amounts of stress and pressure, both on and off the ice. Sometimes, these feelings can get overwhelming and can contribute to mental health concerns.
While you can’t cure mental health issues, you can be aware of the warning signs. And, if you notice them in the athletes in your life, you can suggest that they talk to a counselor or other professional who can potentially help.
What to Look For
It’s important to note that there are all kinds of mental illnesses and mental health concerns. It is never your job to diagnose a condition.
However, many mental health issues do have overlapping warning signs you can watch out for, including:
· Changes in behavior
· Being extremely emotional and/or volatile
· Overreacting to mistakes or losses
· Getting irritable and frustrated easily
· Isolating oneself from other players/the coach
· A lack of interest in sports or other activities
· Suddenly skipping practices or games
· Poor hygiene
How to Help
If you have concerns about a player, talk to the player first. Ask if anything is different or wrong in their lives or if there’s anything you’d like to talk about.
It’s also a good idea to let the child’s parent know that you have concerns. Try to do this in as gentle a way as possible. Make it clear you are only saying something because you care about the child’s best interest.
What the parents choose to do from there is up to them. However, by noticing a potential problem and letting parents know, you could make someone’s life much better and happier.