A challenging year will inspire Darthmus student-athletes to look at mental health

Kat Greig felt lonely.

At the beginning of the Coronavirus epidemic, with her family in Missisaga, Ontario, the Darthmus College Women’s Soccer Defender switched between regular work and leisure time when she could not mobilize power for easy running.

Emphasis on meetings with teammates and coaches helped, but she could not help but feel lonely. And when she returned to class in Hanover last school year, it only got worse. Friendly teammates were still monitoring the school from a distance, and the strict COVID-19 precautions on campus made it difficult to communicate with students in the area.

There are seven of us in our class, and six of my friends are not here. I was completely here on my own, ”said Greg.

“One by one I think they have improved a lot, I was tired and I said ‘OK, I can’t do this. I think this is a little difficult for me, and I need some help to fix it. ”

Greg did not want to burden her teammates on campus, so she relied on her family and friends to return home for support. They are still not fully connected with the situation in Dar es Salaam.

Throughout, Greg continued to feel that he had a mental health test. I wanted to take a step back to give myself a break, but that option came with its own worries and complications.

“It was very difficult to get a balance between the academies, the small athletics we were involved in and the social aspect that was just close to normal,” says Greg.

As the school year approaches, with many expecting a “normal” school year, college officials and big green athletes are hoping for a breakthrough that recognizes the importance of mental illness, and hopes students will have the resources they need to feel supported this school year.

Public eye

Athletes’ mental health thanks to the actions of two stars during the summer sparked a national debate.

Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from the French tennis operation in May, cited mental health concerns, and at the same time sat in Wimbledon in July. She has been posting on social media about depression and anxiety and has continued to do so since her return to court.

In August, gymnastics Simon Bills canceled all but two events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to focus on her mental health, and she was clear about the struggle.

For Dartmouth field hockey veteran Cessie Monnin, mental health concerns in college athletics predicted a high-profile case this summer, or even a widespread outcry among young people about mental health issues.

Coming from high school to college You learn things like time management, you learn what works for you, but a lot of changes are taking place in college. She said. My first year, mental health was very difficult for me.

She later said that the other three new students in her group all had the same mental health problems, but no one wanted to talk about it because no one wanted to be moral.

“Sometimes it goes under the radar,” says Monin. You are trying hard to be the best outside so you can play, but here is the idea that you want to be as strong as possible. I think it leads to a lot of problems and people don’t talk when things get tough.

Mental health risks for athletes can be serious, especially in the Ivy League. Athletes All student-athletes face the same adventures that they manage, but they also increase the pressure to take higher education. That academic pressure alone can be detrimental to a student’s mental health.

Gronnold, the wife of a senior women’s soccer player, said double the pressure would definitely be a problem for some Ivy athletes.

“It’s easy to be in an environment where everyone is great at school, and everyone is good at their sport,” he said. “That can affect the way you look at yourself.

The CV-19 epidemic exacerbated those issues, with the league missing out on at least one season when it eliminated all sports in 2020-21.

Taurus Samuel, a senior men’s basketball player, was coming one year when he had a lot of playing time. Even after the suspension of spring sports, they spent the winter of 2020 working on the game. He tried to keep a bright hope even after sports were canceled in the fall of 2020 – winter sports will continue.

The need to continue working after basketball has been discontinued has been called into question.

You often wake up, especially in the winter, and you say, ‘Do I really have to run now? We don’t play for a year, ”says Samuel. “Or, ‘I have to get up? Does that make a difference? ‘ ”

Samuel, a psychologist, has a special interest in mental health.

“Mental health is important to your physical health, especially as a student-athlete, but as a student at Ivy League School in general,” Samuel said.

Help is available

Dartmouth Acting Director of Athletics Peter Robbie says one of the most important things the college can do is encourage students to talk openly about mental health.

“The idea is to create the conversation, to make the conversation a priority, so that people know they are not in the shadows,” said Robbie. We do not hide it, and we want people to be open to their resources and not judge others because they use their resources.

One of these resources is Stephen Gonzalez, who works in the Dartmouth Peak performance, known as Dip 2.

Gonzalez’s official title is Assistant Athletics Director for Leadership and Mental Performance. Organizes leadership programs for all Darthmus teams and student-athletes, including mental skills training. While DP2 offers traditional sports psychology to students, Gonzalez training is a non-clinical approach. He says high school health education is similar to the way they teach about physical activity and healthy eating.

“It’s not just a disorder,” says Gonzalez. “The sports world has had a lot of interest in this over the last few years, a lot of athletes are talking about it.

“Yes, depression and anxiety are central to one of those conversations. But many athletes talk about what they do to maintain balance, to maintain a sense of love and happiness, and to maintain a healthy sense of purpose. And it is not something that will cause them to adopt unhealthy habits or unsustainable things that may eventually lead to mental health problems. ”

Gonzalez is available for group and individual counseling. Works with students on topics such as performance plans, goal achievement, and achievement.

At the height of the COVID-19 epidemic, Gonzalez gained experience from working with the military to enhance readiness and strength.

“To the student-athletes, ‘You never know when you’ll get a chance to play again, so you have to be prepared. Our soldiers did not think of a specific war. They do not choose to go to war, but they are always ready for it, ”said Gonzalez.

When he hit some low points, Samuel worked with Gonzalez during the plague, and they still meet regularly.

“He is wonderful. Powerful, great man, always ready to help. ” “He goes to different groups, he talks about leadership, how to be a better integrated unit. And he’s ready to meet one by one, so I’ll meet with him to be a better leader for my teammates and our team.

As for me (I talked to him) this past year, in the new year, even in my career, I have had many struggles in my mind. How can I be better and stronger in my mind to be a better athlete? ‘”

System change

Some students, such as Greg, do not blame the college for all the challenges they have faced over the past 18 months. Dartmouth administrators said they were uncertain about the situation and that they had fallen in last fall.

“It was our first return to campus, and Greg and the athletics department did not know what resources (and) they were interested in,” said Greg. “I think I went blind, the college was blind, our athletic department was blind, and they did their best to get to know him. But obviously there can always be improvements.

Others at the college, such as Monin, knew that the students would be challenged, but they were not active enough to provide resources.

I met my first-year professor. And (she) says very clearly, ‘I can say that all the students in my class, when they wake up, go to their rooms and write everything in my faith, they are all depressed. . And I can say that they are all very lonely, ”said Monin. “There is recognition that people feel this way, but ‘What can we do about it? >no I do not. And I was frustrated at Dartmouth. ”

According to Samuel, while the Department of Athletics has enough mental health resources, it is unacceptable that Dick House did not have enough counselors for the entire student population last year.

That was the first criticism for Dartmouth after two students committed suicide in November and May. Following the protests, which called for more attention to mental health, the college announced that it would bring in two more counselors to serve students.

Grennold, from Iceland, offers a unique perspective for students and student-athletes in mental health support for Dartmouth. Care in Dar es Salaam and the United States is not as accessible or widespread compared to its homeland.

“I never felt comfortable talking here (mental health) because it is so normal at home,” Gronovville said. “In theory, everyone should be able to go to a therapist if necessary, and that should be free. I think it’s important to give everyone access and access to these resources.

Robbie said he thinks there are appropriate resources for athletes and the student body as a whole at the beginning of this school year.

Gonzalez asked if there was really such a thing as adequate mental health support.

“I don’t know how many counselors a person needs at school and what the acceptable time will be between appointments. I can’t talk about the student experience here, ”said Gonzalez. I know that people in those roles work tirelessly to make not only personal appointments but also a broader program to reach out and break down stigma as much as possible.

Robbie’s message to a mentally challenged student-athlete is that he wants them to be in good shape. And just as it emphasizes physical therapy and training, it wants athletes to seek help when they are not feeling well.

“Let us help you. Do not be afraid. There is no stigma attached to doing what works for you. ” They don’t really care about you because they look at you differently or (like a little) come forward and say you have challenges that you want to solve. Everyone who cares about you wants to get the help you need.

When this happens, there is no place for a curse because it could be life or death.

Seth Tow can be reached at stow@vnews.com.


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