Erin Corcoran (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Student athletes have a lot on their plates these days. Prioritizing themselves, trying to balance classes, practice, and games is no easy task. Many athletes face an increase in anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues during sports seasons, with studies reporting 1 in 4 student athletes in the survey fit a depression diagnosis. However, few discuss these problems due to the stigma surrounding mental health. Like many other things, the pandemic has only made life more challenging and has altered the way athletes conduct their practices. Luckily, conversations about the importance of mental health have increased on campus. One organization, The Hidden Opponent Club, is trying to help better the mental well-being of student athletes.
A student and former USC volleyball player, Victoria Garrick, founded The Hidden Opponent after witnessing the stress students have to endure on and off the playing field. As a Division One collegiate athlete, she felt like there needed to be a solution after facing performance anxiety and body-image issues. The Hidden Opponent’s goal is to destigmatize mental health, specifically in athletics through advocacy, education, and support. Members hope to advocate by supporting players, shedding light on the issues and needs of athletes, and educating others as a result.
The newly established Ursinus club hopes to destigmatize mental health issues surrounding student athletes on campus. In the chapter, there are 17 Campus Captains from a variety of years, majors, and athletic teams. These students serve as leaders and advocates for the athlete mental health community at Ursinus. Erin Drebrushenko, a student athlete and campus captain, believes that “Many people perceive athletes as strong and unbreakable, sort of like some kind of superhuman. But that is so far from the truth. Athletes are people too and suffer from mental illnesses as well. By shifting the conversation in athletics, we can show athletes themselves that it is perfectly okay to not be okay. Athletics can cause a lot of added pressure and stress, which can affect mental illnesses and shift the perception of mental health altogether. By showing athletes that they are not alone, we can provide a support system and resources for athletes to cope with any factors in athletics that might negatively impact their mental health.”
Recently, members shared local and national mental health resources on social media to spread awareness. Looking ahead, they have plans to expand this organization into a club students can join and will continue to provide resources to those who need them.
To learn more about The Hidden Opponent, visit the national website https://thehiddenopponent.com/ and follow the Ursinus chapter on Instagram (@tho_ursinus)