By Taylor Smith
“This happened to me”
I play college softball, and we had to run a mile on the first day of fall ball practice. It was
raining and super wet outside. I gave the coaches my original mile time, and they knocked off
over a minute. I ran the mile Tuesday, and I beat the time they had given me by a whole minute
and a half. Even though this was a huge improvement, my mental toughness was definitely tested.
Training every day for two weeks, I could definitely see a change in the way I was thinking. By
the end of the training, I could tell I wasn’t as positive.
“My story is not unique, here’s the problem”
Mental health has been a burning issue for many. Mental health issues can involve
all ages and backgrounds. Everyone can experience mental health issues because of trauma,
stress, loneliness, physical health condition, etc (3). Mental health is often overlooked
by so many. Mental health issues are not taken as seriously as physical issues (5). More than
50% of people will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. One in
five Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year (1). Oftentimes, mental health
can lead to bigger issues. Untreated mental illness can cause severe emotional, behavioral, and
physical health problems. Complications sometimes linked to mental illness include
unhappiness and decreased enjoyment of life (2). Although having a mental illness can happen
to anyone, my story is more on the athletic side. Signs that an athlete may need an assessment of
their mental health include sleeping problems, irritability, low energy, and changes in eating (5).
Depression and anxiety are not diagnoses evident on an X-ray or MRI, but they can be every bit
as limiting or debilitating as a physical injury. Too often, however, these issues are ignored in the
name of grit (5). Oftentimes, many athletes do not ask for help because it is frowned upon. If you
are tough then you do not need help. You should be able to do it on your own (5). This stigma has
caused many athletes to take their own life. Athletes are people too (5). Not only does this stigma
need to be broken for athletes, but it also needs to be broken for everyone. Asking for help is okay.
“Here is a non-profit working to solve the problem”
National Alliance on Mental Illness is a non-profit working to solve mental illnesses. The
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health
organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental
illness (4). What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has
blossomed into the nation’s leading voice on mental health. Today, they are an alliance of more
than 600 local affiliates and 49 state organizations who work in the community to raise
awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need
(4). Built on the values of hope, inclusion, empowerment, compassion, and fairness (4).
They educate, support, advocate, listen, and lead. Their education
programs ensure hundreds of thousands of families, individuals, and educators get the support
and information they need. NAMI state organizations and affiliates host support
groups, for both those with mental illness and caregivers, so that no one feels alone in their
mental health journey (4). NAMI provides volunteer leaders with the tools, resources, and
skills necessary to save mental health in all states (4). Their toll-free NAMI HelpLine
allows them to respond personally to hundreds of thousands of requests each year, providing free
information and support. They hold public awareness events and activities, including Mental Illness
Awareness Week and NAMIWalks to successfully fight stigma and encourage understanding (4).
NAMI works with reporters on a daily basis to make sure our country understands how
important mental health is (4). They suggest advocating for treatment. Your support helps ensure
that no individual or family member is left feeling alone (4).
“Here’s what you (the reader) can do to help, right now!”
If you’re sitting on your couch right now, you can donate to the National Alliance on
Mental Illness (NAMI). Your financial contribution to the National Alliance on Mental Illness
helps create a world where all people affected by mental illness can experience hope, recovery,
wellness, and freedom from the stigma (4).
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 13). Mental health.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 20, 2022, from
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2019, June 8). Mental illness.
Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 20, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-
- What causes mental health problems? Mind. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2022, from
- About nami. NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2022, from
- (2021, August 9). Athletes and mental health: Breaking the stigma. Cleveland Clinic.
Retrieved September 20, 2022, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/mental-health-in-
Categories: Home, Mental health, op ed
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