Mountain East Conference plans a Mental Health Presentation for April 15

On April 15, the Mountain East Conference is offering a mental health presentation for its student-athletes. The presentation will take place virtually via Zoom and will be hosted by Mental Health Empowerment Speaker, Ivy Watts. The session, “It’s Okay Not To Be Okay During COVID-19 & Beyond – You Are Not Alone” is set to take place on Thursday, April 15 at 7 p.m.

The presentation is approximately an hour long and is set to cover a number of important mental health related topics. The nature of the discussion will specifically relate to student-athletes and the effects of the pandemic.

Watts is leading the event as a Mental Health Empowerment Speaker. Watts, a former All-American student-athlete in track and field, earned her undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of New Haven and achieved her Masters in public health at Boston University. Her personal experience with anxiety prompted her to become a leading voice in the discussion of mental health and the destruction of the stigma surrounding the subject. In this role “[Watts] has empowered over 10,000 students and over 5,000 administrators/coaches, as well as parents and employees to practice mental wellness for themselves and for others,” according to her website.

The MEC has invested significantly into this event in the hope to enlighten the student-athlete population and educate all those involved in college sports on the topic of mental health. With life now being heavily disrupted for over a year as a result of COVID-19, mental health awareness is continually seeing reinforcement as people adapt to the new version of normal. “This is most definitely an important topic that is applicable to student-athletes on the heels of the pandemic,” said Brad Forshey, the NCAA Compliance Officer at West Liberty.

The discussion will be specifically geared towards student-athletes and will focus on a range of sub-topics including “Breaking the stigma around therapy through interactive activity”, “How we can recognize that mental health and physical health are interconnected”, and “How we can be there for those around us when they are struggling”.

For student-athletes specifically, the pandemic has been a source of stress as several have had to make difficult decisions over whether to stay in school for an extra year to play their sport in place of the season that was abandoned due to COVID. “I worked hard in school to graduate [early] in the fall so this was supposed to be my senior season… It being pushed to spring means I don’t get to have my senior season,” said Katie Kota, a recent graduate of the women’s soccer team at WLU.

If you are struggling more immediately with mental health problems, you can contact the WLU councillor by email at [email protected].