For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps, sign up for Outside+.
Physical performance is not merely a physical feat. For athletes to perform at their very best, whether at the age-group level or in elite competition, they also have to home their mental skills. And that means an athlete’s mental health needs must be addressed. The evidence is clear that mind and body work in tandem. Though many assume endurance athletes, who are flush with feel-good endorphins from hours spent training, are immune from mental health issues like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or eating disorders, the numbers tell a different story. Mental illness affects 20% of the general population in the U.S., but one study shows 37% of endurance athletes report being diagnosed with mental illness, and 46% showed risk factors for mental health issues.
In the latest installment of the Endurance Geeks series, researchers outline why mental health issues are more prevalent in endurance athletes, what keeps athletes from seeking help, and how the endurance community can leverage their strengths to change the conversation about mental health.
Looking for practical mental health guidance? The following mental health resources can help address the unique needs of athletes.
Mental Health Resources for Athletes and Coaches
- National Collegiate Athletic Association: Supporting Student-Athlete Mental Wellness
- International Olympic Committee: Athlete 365 #MentallyFit
- TEDXUSC: Athletes and Mental Health: The Hidden Opponent
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Managing Stress in Sports
- Road Runners Club of America: Mental Health Guide for Athletes and Their Support Networks
- USA Swimming: Understanding Mental Health and Available Resources
- 1 in 4 Project
- Athletes Against Anxiety and Depression
General Mental Health Resources
- National Institute of Mental Health: 5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain
- National Institute of Mental Health: Taking Control of Your Mental Health: Tips for Talking With Your Provider
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Behavioral Health Treatment Locator
- Psychology Today: National directory of therapists, psychiatrists, support groups and treatment facilities
- National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En español 1-888-628-9454; Lifeline Web Chat
- Crisis Text Line: Text “HELLO” to 741741
Additional Info on Mental Health for Triathletes
- What Coaches Need to Know About Mental Health
- The Injuries You Can’t See: How Mental State Impacts How an Injury Heals
- When Triathlon Becomes an Unhealthy Obsession
- Sarah True: Finding Happiness in Sport
- Create a Support Network
- Sonja Wieck: From Kona Podium Finisher to Suicidal
- Going All in Led Me to Endurance Sports – And Alcohol Abuse