SJSU athletes tackle mental health stigma with student-run Dam Worth It program

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Wednesday, May 25, 2022
SJSU athletes tackle mental health stigma
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Student-athletes at San Jose State are raising awareness around mental health in athletics through a program created by and for student athletes.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Athletes are often described as people of strength, like Spartan warriors. They have to be tough, physical, and never show weakness.

But there's more to strength than what meets the eye and San Jose State University student athletes want to prove mental health and strength is just as important as physical.

Born from the Oregon State Beavers program, Dam Worth It is a student athlete ran organization highlighting the importance of mental health in athletic programs across the country, including here at San Jose State.

"Strength isn't always physical," SJSU Water Polo senior Riley Agerbeek said. "There's kind of this barrier on if you're performing your best and you're executing your best, then mental health shouldn't be there. And I think that's something that we're trying to tackle here at Dam Worth It."

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The stigma of mental health in athletics is broken down through events where athletes can build strong minds and hearts -- from bringing some calm to their life through yoga classes or holding open forums to share similar struggles to unite together.

"People come from different backgrounds and different stories and just to kind of see the similarities with each other and be able to come together and have that moment with each other so it can make the events that much more impactful," SJSU Gymnastics junior Alexa Solomon said.

Mental health resources for athletes aren't always in abundant supply and the nation learned of the importance of that through the heartbreaking story at Stanford University this year with soccer star Katie Meyer.

The student athlete advisory committee brought this resource to campus to make a difference. They want to try and ensure nothing like that happened to Spartan athletes.

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"In just a semester of having it here, it's already really touched a lot of our athletes and we've been able to hear a lot of great stories from our athletes so far about their own struggles with mental health and their thankfulness for this program and breaking down the stigmas and ending the stigma around mental health," Agerbeek said.

"I think being able to know that there's people around you that are here to support you and here to help you, I think it's just important to be united with one another," Solomon said.

SJSU athletes often train their bodies on the field and in the weight room, but they are now training their minds beyond athletics to be stronger as one Spartan nation.

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