The Ohio State University suffered the loss of Kosta Karageorge, a 22 year old player suffering with thoughts of failure in addition to complaints of the impact from several concussions (Laprete, 2014). Sport leaders may unfortunately overlook the signs of a mental health issue. Athlete management policies are needed to check the mental health of players who may suffer under conditions of high stress and competition.
Social responsibility in sport at this point in time has shifted from caring for the community to caring for the individual well-being of the athlete. Athlete management requires accepting social responsibility for the physical and mental well-being of young athletes. Issues in the NFL with long term concussion damage to players shifted the focus to less exploitation of players to more care and concern for their physical and mental health (Mihoces, 2014).
One approach emerging in psychological research involved dialectical behavioral therapy (Linehan, 1993). Sport leaders should not conduct therapy themselves. However, techniques from psychological therapy approaches could help coaches manage athlete mental health to determine if mental health services are needed from qualified mental health professions. For example, knowledge of the dialectical behavior therapy could help coaches engage in dialogue with athletes to gather mental health status and begin addressing self-destructive thoughts and behaviors. Reports indicate that the Ohio State player spoke of his distress over disappointing others and being a failure (Laprete, 2014). Coaches may be able to gain awareness of these signs of mental distress early enough to know an athlete needs increased mental health services.
Athletes around the globe feel greater pressure to perform with high competition and increased media coverage (Hodge & Hermannson, 2007). Their mental reaction to stress could be monitored by teams not only to avoid tragic losses in talent but also to increase performance through ways of coping to flourish. Several ways of coping may include thought control techniques, task focus, positive self-talk, and social support. Psychology has advanced to not only addressing mental health problem. Positive psychology techniques (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000) are also available to athletes around the globe to learn ways of thriving even during times of adversity.
Hodge, K., & Hermansson, G. (2007). Psychological preparation of athletes for the Olympic context. Athletic Insight.
Laprete, J. (December 1st, 2014). Missing for four days, Kosta Karageorge, an Ohio State defensive lineman, is found dead. The New York Times.
Linehan,M., Heard,H. (1993). Impact of treatment accessibility on clinical course of parasuicidal patients: Reply. Archives of General-Psychiatry, 50(2): 157-158.
Mihoces, G. (July 7th, 2014). NFL concussion settlement gets preliminary approval. USA Today.
Seligman, M. & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist.