‘Struggling’: Young athletes at risk for mental health issues

Local News

MURRAY, Utah (ABC4) – Tennis star Naomi Osaka’s recent withdrawal from two tournaments has put the spotlight on athlete mental health.

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Osaka, the world’s second-ranked player, pulled out of the French Open and recently announced she’s skipping a tournament in Berlin. In an Instagram post, the 23-year-old stated that she has social anxiety and has been suffering long bouts of depression since the 2018 U.S. Open.

Intermountain Healthcare Sports Psychologist Dr. Tony Kenmochi said that the pressure and stress of competition can lead to mental health issues. He suggests keeping an eye on young athletes for changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, and moodiness.

“Sometimes parents look at a child and go ‘Oh you have an anger issue’ but what we know in psychology is that depression tends to come out in the form of irritability for youth,” Dr. Kenmochi said Wednesday. “If your child is being avoidant or irritable and aggressive that usually signals something deep inside that they’re struggling with.”

Dr. Kenmochi says parents should invite children to talk about their emotions and make sure they know they’re not suffering alone.

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