Being a Student-Athlete and Living with Mental Illness: Speaking Out

“I am so sick of feeling alone and helpless.
Mental illness is not something you should be ashamed of but breaking down that stigma starts with us, the student-athletes.

We can change the culture and make it easier for our friends and teammates to get the help that they need.”
~Lanesha Reagan

On January 3, 2017, Oregon State volleyball star, Lanesha Reagan, stopped her silence.  She decided to start the conversation about her struggles with depression and self-harm.  Lanesha shared this inspiring message of hope in her blog, “So here I am; not being a coward and completely and totally jumping out of my very comfortable shell and telling people it’s okay to not be okay, even if other people like parents, coaches or friends have other expectations of you. Ask for help, talk about your problems, don’t struggle in silence. I felt alone and I still do sometimes but something kind of funny and heartbreaking happened when I met with that therapist for the first time. I was filling out paperwork in the waiting room, trying to hide the form that asked me questions like “On a scale of 1-5 how much have you thought about hurting yourself within the last two weeks?” and as I looked around to see if anyone was looking at me and there were three other student-athletes filling out the exact same form. You are not alone. Don’t wait until it gets worse to ask for help, reach out to someone that makes you feel safe. I am so sick of feeling alone and helpless. Mental illness is not something you should be ashamed of but breaking down that stigma starts with us, the student-athletes. We can change the culture and make it easier for our friends and teammates to get the help that they need.”

Lanehsa’s openness caught the attention of ESPN this May and she was able to share her message of hope with so many other athletes.  Read her story.  Share it.  Share your story.  You never know who may need to hear it.

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