College athletics are competitive and can be nerve-wracking. Students competing in University championships fight for the trophy, putting their life at stake. In many instances, the winner or winning team not only catapults to instant fame within the college or the University, but also secures seat in an Ivy League college. Many of the good colleges in America give due importance to extracurricular activities and consider admissions based on good performance in a sport.
The idea of introducing sports in college was to ensure that students can remain physically fit and get the opportunity to have fun, along with bonding with other playmates. Sports foster a healthy sportsman spirit and keep the mind and body active, forming an integral part of the schedule. Unfortunately, the primary purpose for introducing sports in college has got lost. Sportsmen these days go through long hours of practice along with grueling study sessions. Their travel schedules are packed and they have to run from one place to another for one game or the other with little time for other things. Under such demanding circumstances, the possibilities of a physical burnout or a mental breakdown are quite high. Some of the recurrent mental illnesses that students in the sports field face are depression, anxiety, phobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Rising expectations to excel and be an all-rounder puts excessive burden on a student’s mind. The disappointment of loss looms large, and many genuinely require counselling and therapies for relaxing and accepting defeat as a part of the game.
In order to raise mental health awareness for student athletes, the current and former Oregon State University athletes have launched a campaign called #DamnWorthIt. The campaign was launched following suicide of Washington State Cougars quarterback Tyler Hilinkski, aged just 21. The hashtag is the initiative of two Oregon State Students – former gymnast Taylor Ricci and current player from the men’s soccer team Nathan Braaten – who had experienced mental illness at close quarters and are quite candid about it.
As the hashtag suggests, the primary motive of the campaign is to ensure that every student knows that they are damn worth it. As Braaten says, if even one life could be saved, it would be worth it. Although the primary recipients of Braaten and Ricci’s campaign are college athletes who suffer silently from the constant and untenable demands placed on them by their coach, family and peers. However, a student who is not part of the athletics team but needs desired help for his/her mental health problems can also benefit from the initiative.
What the duo primarily want is that students/athletes tackle their mental health condition in the same way they tackle their physical problems. When someone sprains their ankle, they talk to the doctor and get it treated but when they suffer from depression, they continue to suffer without understanding the need of treatment. The stigma around mental illnesses makes them reluctant from talkinbg to a doctor about their condition and often, the consequences are tragic. Referring to their larger game plan, Ricci said, “Our goal is to destigmatize and spread awareness about the epidemic of mental health in collegiate athletics.” The #DamWorthIt Campaign has received significant recognition as the founders are invited to attend the NCAA APPLE Conference on Jan.26-28, 2018 in San Diego. The APPLE institute is dedicated to promoting student-athlete wellness and substance abuse prevention.
Road to recovery
Most mental health conditions are treatable, provided the individual seeks and receives support in time. Unfortunately, year after year federal reports indicate that there is a significant gap between the need and health care services. Many people live in deplorable conditions and remain undiagnosed or undertreated for years. It’s time to understand that each life is damn worth it.
The 24/7 Mental Health Helpline supports people struggling with psychiatric conditions through inpatient and outpatient treatment services. Call at our 24/7 mental rehab helpline (855) 653-8178 or chat online with one of the representatives to know about the best centers offering comprehensive recovery plans and continuing care programs.