Oswego State student athletes deal with unique challenges, but endure same mental health struggles as others 

OSWEGO, N.Y. — Although its are several weeks removed from suicide prevention awareness month, that doesn’t mean that maintaining a positive mental health status is any less important. For college students, this is especially crucial as many of them deal with the stresses of school, work, and everyday life. As for student athletes, while they may manage an increased workload and face a unique set of mental health struggles, they are no different than anybody else. 

Caleb Munski, a senior soccer player at Oswego State, emphasized that while student athletes may be viewed differently than regular students, the stresses that they endure are no more critical than anybody else’s. 

“Yes, student athletes go through different stressors, but in no shape or form are they more significant or important than normal students,” Munski said.  

Although the problems a student athlete goes through aren’t put above the issues other students deal with, the expectations for student athletes are inevitably much higher. They have to maintain a higher GPA than the average student as well as perform up to standard every day in their sport. 

Caleb Munski speaks about the importance of maintaining a good mental health status.

Student athletes also have an intense schedules. Between school, practice, games, and other things in their everyday lives, it could be hard for them to manage it all and stay composed. Though, every athlete has their own unique way of dealing with these stresses. Whether it be through counseling or going to the gym, Munski believes it’s important for athletes to find an outlet to improve upon their mental health. 

“It’s very individualistic in the approach of how you handle your stress and cope with mental health,” Munski said. “Eating healthy and exercising are key as well because if you don’t feel good physically, odds are you’re not going to feel great mentally and vice versa.” 

The importance of finding what works in terms of relieving stress cannot be overstated. One of the most effective ways of dealing with mental health struggles is through counseling or therapy. Though, not nearly enough people seek out this help, Munski said. Although almost every person in the U.S. deals with some form of stress, anxiety, or other mental health issues, according to a 2019 CDC study, only 9.5% of Americans receive counseling from a mental health professional. 

There still seems to be a stigma around people coming forward and asking for help. Whether it be because they don’t want to seem “weak-minded,” “vulnerable,” or any other reason, it is a major problem that continues to persist throughout the country. Though, public figures stepping up to talk about their own mental health problems has been one factor that has helped erase the stigma a bit.

Over the past several years, an abundance of athletes across the world come forward and talk about their struggles with mental health. Players such as DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Love, and Jordan Poyer have all openly spoken about their problems in an effort to spread awareness about maintaining a good mental health status. 

Ed Gosek, the head coach of the Oswego State men’s hockey team, believes that big-name athletes speaking about their mental health struggles is vital to getting other people to reach out for help. 

“When people like that are open about their shortcomings, it helps a lot,” Gosek said. “It’s more than them just guiding people in the right direction. When these high-profile people come out and say it’s okay to ask for help, it allows other athletes and people who look up to them to realize that they’re not the only ones going through hardships.”

 

Ed Gosek on why it’s vital to speak up on mental health struggles.

Gosek is somebody that not only his athletes look up to, but a figure that everyone in the Oswego community looks up to. Although he goes through his own struggles at times, Gosek says that it’s important for him to be a person that someone can come to and lean on when they’re dealing with issues in their life. 

“Mental health issues are something that we take very seriously and are aware of. We have an open-door policy here for our players or coaches to come in and talk. It’s important that we let them know if they need time off or they need to go home, whatever it is, we’re supportive and we’re here for them,” said Gosek. 

While being a student athlete comes with its own unique set of struggles, it’s important to realize that these struggles aren’t held in a higher regard than other people’s. Though, with more athletes coming forward and admitting problems they have with mental health, it will hopefully enact more people to reach out for the help they need.