Report: High depression, anxiety reported in high school student-athletes after COVID-19 closures

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Eric Chaloux
Updated: Jul, 01, 2020 06:38 PM
Created: July 01, 2020 02:47 PM

Wisconsin High School sports were benched this spring in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, but new research from the University of Wisconsin—Madison shows most student-athletes’ mental health was affected by the closures.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health found 68% of student-athletes reported symptoms of depression in May.

Moderate to severe depression was 3.5 times higher than in previous studies, according to researchers.

The study estimates 66,000 Wisconsin adolescent athletes are at risk for depression.

“The biggest take away from the research, the school closures and sports cancellations are associated with a significant negative impact on the health and well-being of high school student-athletes,” said Timothy A. McGuine, PhD, University of Wisconsin researcher.

The project questioned high school student-athletes online from 71 of the 72 counties in the state.

About 65% of Wisconsin student-athletes reported anxiety symptoms due to COVID-19 closures.

“Mental health experts say exercise and organized sports is a huge anti-depressant activity, that’s an intervention we try to get kids into to reduce their anxiety — to reduce their depression — so it’s all related,” said McGuine. “We think the mental health low scores are directly related to the low physical activity.”

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