NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A program at the Children’s Hospital for the King’s Daughters in Norfolk will remind young athletes that they do not have to be an Olympian to struggle with mental health issues in sports.
The sports medicine program developed Mindfulness coaching program over a year ago to help minimize the stigma of talking about mental health in sports and teaching athletes important lessons on how to cope.
It’s a lesson Elijah Munden learned the hard way.
The 17-year-old was benched from wrestling, football, basketball and baseball 10 months ago after tearing his ACL.
“People are not aware of how difficult it is when you go from living an everyday life to ‘I need help to take a shower, I need help to go to the toilet, I need to go to therapy, but it hurts every single day ‘, “he said.
His physiotherapist recommended that he enroll in the Mindfulness Coaching program at CHKD to teach him how to deal with the mental problems young athletes face.
Program Medical Director Dr. Joel Brenner says it seems to teach athletes proper ways to deal with common stressors.
“The inherent stress they put on themselves, and which may be unrealistic, but also ways of dealing with stress inflicted by their coaches, by their team,” Brenner said.
The ultimate goal is to eliminate the increasing mental health in the sports world.
“[The stigma] that mental health is different from a physical problem because there is that connection too, ”he said. “You may have mental problems, anxiety, and it will also cause some physical symptoms.”
Elijah says he feels better every day and hopes he can get on the field this school year.
He also hopes to encourage more mental health conversations on and off the field.
“I wish I had known before there was an injury because it’s not just injured athletes, athletes in general are still dealing with depression, anxiety, even when they are completely, physically healthy,” Munden said. “But it was not talked about, and it is something that I think should be brought to light.”
The program currently sees patients through telehealth.
Learn more about the program and find out how to sign up here.
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