June 11, 2021
Famed tennis player Naomi Osaka recently withdrew from the French Open due to concerns about her mental health; the athlete had suffered long depressive episodes and emphasized the unique pressures of being a high-profile athlete that led to her decision. Osaka’s example serves as an important reminder for the world of elite athletic competition, and can hopefully spur discussions concerning the importance of psychological wellbeing and mental health from tennis courts to the typical office environment.
Up until now, efforts to support elite athlete mental health have mostly centered on building literacy and awareness of the signs of disorders. While mental health awareness is necessary, it is not sufficient in addressing the varied and increasing psychologic needs of athletes. As such concerns increase among the population, clinicians can play a paramount role in supporting their patients’ mental health while being more conscious of the specific issue of athlete mental health to provide improved, holistic care.
October 9, 2019
Sunday, October 6th marks the beginning of Mental Illness Awareness Week 2019 across the United States, during which the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) and other psychological support organizations come together to spread awareness and fight the stigma that remains enveloped in the conversation surrounding mental illness. Despite their prevalence – 1 in 5 adults will experience mental illness in this year alone – mental health conditions are often minimized and treated with less urgency than physical illness. This has allowed intentional self-harm to become the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and the 2nd most common cause among college students.
May 25, 2019
More people are struggling with anxiety and stress than ever before; anxiety disorders are currently the most common mental illness in the American population, affecting more than 40 million adults. Despite its prevalence, people suffering from anxiety and stress often lack the tools they need to alleviate their symptoms and only 36.9% of them receive treatment. Access to professional help, treatment opportunities, and management techniques may not be easily accessible for everyone looking to improve their mental health, but one crucial element is ubiquitously available – the breath.
Of the many stress coping techniques and lifestyle habits, deep mindful breathing is one of the most important. Breath control has been proven to help subdue the errant stress response – or fight or flight reaction – when it becomes unnecessarily activated by day-to-day events. As chronic stress has been linked to a variety of health conditions such as high blood pressure, suppressed immune system activity, anxiety, and depression, it is important to combat stress reactions with their therapeutic counterpart. A relaxation response, or the state of profound rest, can be elicited through meditation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, and other soothing practices in combination with focused breathing.