CW: mental health, suicide
Being a part of something memorable is all part of our lives here at Merrimack College. Whether you play a sport, are in the band, or join clubs you are passionate about, these are all making an impact in our lives and the Merrimack community. We have over 60 clubs and organizations, ranging from sororities and fraternities to diversity and inclusion. Students have the ability to create a club or organization that they feel passionate about, and many new clubs have been created just this year!
Though there are many mental health clubs, initiatives, and organizations on campus, we are still facing a nationwide mental health crisis. In recent years, suicide has become the number two leading cause of death among college students, and there are approximately 1,100 suicides on college campuses per year. Many college campuses and mental health advocates have started taking steps to prevent, educate and aid their students struggling with mental health as a result of these statistics and the increase in mental health crises. However, not every student was getting the attention and help they needed.
Student-athletes compete, train, and practice almost year-round for the four years they attend
school. Some student-athletes move hours away from home, miss holiday vacations, and
compromise their social lives and academics in order to perform to the best of their abilities. Not only do they feel the pressure from themselves to perform and succeed on and off the field, but coaches also push them to their limits at some points. Oftentimes students crowd the stadiums hoping to see the athletes take home a championship trophy and sometimes feel just as much disappointment as the athlete when their college team takes a loss.
These athletes feel an immense amount of pressure and stress throughout the year. Balancing school work, classes, practice, games, team bonding…the list goes on. For many, these busy days come with harmful consequences. Forgetting to eat healthy and fulfilling meals, lack restful sleep, and exhaust their body without giving it the proper rest and treatment. All of these and more can lead to mental and physical exhaustion and burnout.
As a regular student, when I get stressed and overwhelmed with school and balancing my life,
it’s relatively easy for me to take a step back and take a breather for a day or two. That’s not the case for all college students, though. Missing a practice to finish homework, taking a mental wellness day, spending a weekend back at home, all the things other regular students and I do when we start feeling the heat, aren’t exactly doable for student-athletes.
Student-athletes have physical resources like athletic trainers and physical therapists to heal
their bodies, but many do not have resources to help them “heal their minds.” In the last 9 years, 35 student-athletes felt the pressure was too much and didn’t have the appropriate mental health resources and ultimately took their own lives as a result.