HealthDay News — Guidelines for helping U.S. high school athletes with mental health problems are outlined in a new policy statement from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

The types, severity and percentages of mental illnesses are growing in young adults aged 18 to 25, and may well start before or during adolescence, the association says.

The statement, released at the Youth Sports Safety Summit in Dallas, was published simultaneously in the Journal of Athletic Training.

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“The purpose of this statement is to raise awareness and provide education for the high school athletic trainer, coach, administrator, guidance counselor and parent on the prevalence of mental health issues in secondary school athletes,” said Tim Neal, chair of the task force that developed the recommendations.

Possible triggers of mental health problems in high school athletes include poor sports performance, career-ending injury, academic pressure, an eating disorder, and bullying or hazing, the statement says.

Along with outlining ways to identify and get counseling or emergency assistance for student athletes with mental health issues, the statement also offers advice about confidentiality and legal issues.

According to the statement, about one-fifth of high school students with depression and other mental health problems report high rates of alcohol abuse.


Neal TL, et al. Interassociation Recommendations for Developing a Plan to Recognize and Refer Student-Athletes With Psychological Concerns at the Secondary School Level: A Consensus Statement. J Athl Train. 2015; doi: