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Athletic Trainers Provide Psychological First Aid

 

Posted October 28,2016

By Mackenzie Simmons, ATC

The theme for World Mental Health Day this year was Psychological First Aid. This theme ties directly to the care Athletic Trainers (ATs) provide on a daily basis to patients. Whether an athlete has suffered a season-ending or career-ending injury or has lost a loved one in their life, the AT will be there to assist with their mental and emotional well-being.

Mental health issues can affect athletes in a variety of ways. High school and collegiate athletes struggle with the stress of homework, practice and games. Professional and collegiate athletes spend a lot of time on the road, making it hard to see their families and loved ones on a daily basis.  At any level of sport, an athlete may suffer a serious injury and feel like they are losing a part of their identity. These factors can negatively impact the mental health of any athlete, causing serious and long-term issues if they are not handled in an appropriate manner.

The next time you are providing care to your patients, make an effort to look past the musculoskeletal injury of your athlete. Take a moment and look deep down to see how they are handling an injury or their overall participation in the sport emotionally. Many athletes are experts at masking their pain and appearing strong to continue with competition. However, deep down, they may be fighting some emotional battles that they are afraid to show.

By establishing a strong relationship with your athletes, they will likely begin to trust you more, thus allowing them to share their emotional and mental problems with you as well. We, as healthcare providers, need to bring mental health issues out of the shadows, and help our patients be physically well, as well as mentally and emotionally strong.

World Mental Health Day was celebrated worldwide on October 10 to help bring awareness to a variety of mental health topics while gaining support for these serious issues. Learn more about World Mental Health Day at http://www.who.int/mental_health/world-mental-health-day/en/.