Tips to Support the Physical and Mental Health of Your Athletic Teen

 

If you are parents of a teen who is heavily involved in sports, there are some cautions you might want to take on behalf of your adolescent. For instance, not only are young athletes faced with academic stress but they may also feel the pressure to perform, to keep their bodies in shape, and to succeed in their chosen sport. Your athletic teen may need support from their parents, friends, family, and community to do well in both sports and academics.

 

As parents raising a teen in Southern California, there are a variety of sports that your teen might be involved in including swimming, surfing, basketball, football, or track. However, if the demands of being on a sports team are getting in the way of your teen’s life at school or home, then you may want to know about some helpful resources.

 

Look for programs¬† in your teen’s school. To help children and teens with these demands, many universities, high schools, and community organizations provide academic and athletic support programs. For the most part, these programs are aimed at meeting the academic, personal and professional development needs of student athletes. For instance, the UCLA Academic & Student Services Office (AS2) and its S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Program is a diverse program with a wide variety of objectives. They are focused on easing the stress of a student athletes that have both professional and academic goals. They recognize and celebrate student athletic successes. They provide opportunities for the development of leadership and mastery.

 

Find a mental health professional to call when needed. With so much demand and pressure to perform both physically and academically, a teen can sometimes develop a psychological illness. Symptoms of anxiety, addiction, and depression can manifest for some young athletes, especially when the pressure to perform well in their sport is high. If you suspect your athletic teen is vulnerable to depression, anxiety, or addiction, you may want to contact a mental health professional. For instance, one mental health concern, among many concerning high school and college athletes is the use of steroids. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, five to twelve percent of male high school students and one percent of female high school students have used the drug before their senior year.

 

Communicate frequently with your teen’s doctor. In addition to depression, female athletes are at risk for developing the Female Teen Athlete Syndrome.¬† This is a disorder that includes an eating disorder, amenorrhea (the absence of a menstrual period), and decreased bone mineral density (fragile bones that are more likely to fracture). The psycho-physiological disorder is known as a triad because if a female experiences one of these challenges, she is likely to experience the other two. This would be cause to contact a doctor to address the physical and psychological symptoms that this disorder includes. And because of a teen’s involvement in sports, there may be other reasons to be in close communication with their doctor.

 

These are suggestions for ensuring your teen’s physical and psychological well being. Athletes may have physical or psychological vulnerabilities that other teens don’t. As parents of athletic teens, it’s important to have helpful resources on hand to call when needed.

 

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