We’ve had a year hard on our small business, hard on parents and families, and really hard on our athletes. We’ve seen their resilience, but it’s also important that we see and recognize their challenges. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and our jamily wanted to share some advice to start a conversation with your athlete about mental wellness.
Establish trust: Kids, teenagers, and young adults can be skeptical of new conversations with their parents, especially when they involve feelings and emotions. It’s important to set up a trusting environment before anything else. Ask questions and listen patiently without expectations.
Talk to me, not at me: Creating trust can also be developed in how you talk to your athlete. Keep in mind that whatever they share is how they feel, and those feelings are valid to them at the time they share. Be supportive of their feelings and emotions and talk to them about those feelings and emotions instead of at them about your expectations.
Build a mental wellness toolbox: Talk about what mental wellness means and why it’s important. Talk about things like stress, anxiety, feeling lonely, losing, winning, focus, confidence, and being joyful. The more your athlete knows about the many challenges they might face and how to overcome them, the more equipped their mental health toolbox will be.
Continue the conversation: One conversation isn’t enough for your athlete to fully understand all the ins and outs of their mental health. Ask them if they’d like to continue the conversations regularly or how often a conversation would be helpful to them. Make a plan to continue checking in and building their mental wellness toolbox.
These basics do not provide all the answers to starting a conversation with your athlete about their mental health. During Mental Health Awareness Month, dedicate some time to these conversations and look at other resources to help build a mental wellness toolbox for your athlete and for yourself.