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COVID-19 heightens stress among college athletes

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The NCAA surveyed more than 37,000 student-athletes, with the majority stating that they had experienced “high rates of mental distress since the outset” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results from the NCAA’s Student-Athlete COVID-19 Well-being Study – covering all sports across multiple divisions – were made public on Thursday as the organization looked to examine the impact on athletes’ well-being.

More than a third reported sleep difficulties and more than a quarter cited a feeling of sadness and sense of loss. One in 12 reported feelings of depression making it frequently difficult to function.

The majority of athletes (approximately four of five) indicated that access to local gyms complicated workouts and training.

Of the responses, 43 percent cited a fear of exposure to COVID-19.

Mental health has been a focus at FSU and within the ACC in recent years. The ACC held a health and wellness summit in May 2019 and, while the 2020 event was canceled, the league produced videos for athletes to watch.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes, including mental health and wellness, remains one of our top priorities,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said earlier this month. “Our conference will continue to take a leadership role as now, more than ever, it’s critical to ensure our student-athletes, coaches and administrators have available resources and educational materials as we face unprecedented challenges in college athletics.”

The responses are a reflection of the challenges everyone in the world is facing as life has been altered dramatically. But the survey also reflects some positive feelings toward the student-athlete’s educational progress as 70 percent stated they felt positive about their ability to pass classes in the spring semester.

Another positive was communication between coach or support staff and athlete. Almost 90 percent of student-athletes said they were communicating with teammates multiple times a week. Frequent communication was linked to an athlete’s positive outlook, the survey found.

When asked what information they were most looking for from the NCAA, the majority of those surveyed said they were looking for more information about the fall semester and returning to the field.

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