Mental Health Tips With Team USA Senior Sports Psychologist, Sean McCann

Paschalis Ntatsos

Each year on October 10, we celebrate World Mental Health Day to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and share resources to offer support to all who struggle. The isolation and loss of 2020 has impacted all of us in different ways and prioritizing mental health has never been more important than it is now.


Team USA Senior Sport Psychologist, Sean McCann, who has worked with elite-level athletes for 29 years, shares three tips to help swimmers stay on top of their mental health.


Mental Health Tip No. 1:  Remember the foundation for mental health is physical health.  

Swimmers often push the envelope, “saving time” by cutting corners on sleep and good nutrition.  In times of stress, like the world we are living in right now, you can’t afford to under-sleep or under-fuel.  Fuel your brain and body with lots of sleep (8+ hours) and excellent nutrition.


Mental Health Tip No. 2:  Be as nice to yourself as you are to your friends. 

When your friends are struggling, you remind them how awesome they are, how much they are getting done despite real challenges, and how it really is tough these days.  Too many swimmers are way meaner to themselves than others.  It’s not that you should stop trying to be your best, but that you need to remember that to be your best right now is challenging, and right now you may need more self-support than self-criticism.


Mental Health Tip No. 3:  Be mindful if you are starting to isolate and hole-up in your room.

When athletes get down, sometimes they cut themselves off from all the things that help keep them upbeat and happy.  A little alone time is often fine and necessary, but don’t cut yourself off from friends and family that help you laugh, listen to you and remind you that you are an important part of their lives.  Like plants need water and sun to thrive, people need connection.  Especially these days when connection is hard, making the effort to connect pays off in mental health.