Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker of the United States have not competed since last December ©Getty Images

American ice dance stars Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker have decided to skip next month’s World Figure Skating Championships in Japanese city Saitama due to mental health reasons.

Hawayek and Baker are ranked sixth in the world and the number two American pairing but have opted to bring their season to a premature end.

U.S. Figure Skating said the duo’s decision to miss the World Championships, scheduled to be held from March 20 to 26 in Saitama, was to ensure they "continue to prioritise their healing and mental health".

Hawayek also took to social media to explain why they have not competed since last December as she opened up about the mental and physical toll she was experiencing.

"I’ve been taking some intentional space from social media over the past two months, but I wanted to share this moment in my journey with you all as you’ve been so supportive of Jean-Luc and I over the course of our career thus far," Hawayek wrote on Instagram.

"As many of you have seen and followed, Jean-Luc and I have made some tough decisions the past few months to sit out the remainder of our competitive season for personal reasons.

"As an athlete, we are taught to push past physical and mental challenges, because that’s what ‘tough competitors’ do.

"Many people don’t know that during the Olympic season, I not only experienced a significant concussion, but I also fully tore my ACL in the same training incident.

"The athlete mentality came into full force as I was so close to achieving my dream of going to the Olympics and at that moment, pushing myself to return in time for the season was not a question in my mind.

"This past year, I have continued to face significant post-concussive challenges that put me in constant pain and limitation to how I could live my life outside training, and as the months passed and I pushed through, anxiety and depression really began to have an impact on my life that felt too large to just push through and continue to ignore in order to live the ‘tough competitor’ mentality."

Hawayek and Baker claimed the world junior title in 2014 before securing gold at the 2018 Four Continents Championships.

They represented the US at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics where they placed 11th in the rhythm dance.

Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko have been named as their replacements for the World Championships.