December 2, 2023

The importance of mental health at USUE

Did you know that October 10 was Mental Health Awareness Day? Mental Health Awareness Day is a very important topic that needs to be talked about. Utah State Football has made amazing awareness of this matter because of how special it is in their hearts. The head football coach holds Mental Health Awareness close to his heart and spoke on this matter because of his own experience in February of 2022. Coach Blake Anderson is a third year USU football head coach who lost his wife due to breast cancer in 2019. Following that Anderson’s 21-year-old son took his life in February 2022. When interviewed on how his life was impacted after this big life impact. Anderson responded to KSL news on how he learned that his son’s age is the age group with the highest risk for suicide. With his knowledge now on how big suicide is within these age groups, he can share his vulnerable experiences with his team in order to bring light on this situation. “If I can’t share my brokenness and my vulnerabilities, then how can I expect these guys to do the same?”

Because of this trust he has built between him and his players, in times of need they have felt comfortable enough to be able to reach out in times of need. Anderson always tells his players it is okay to struggle. It is okay to ask for help. Find purpose in that pain you are having and before it gets to that breaking point do everything in your power to prevent that. Anderson wants to spread awareness on how we can help people who are struggling with thoughts of suicide. USU and Anderson have come together to establish the Robert Cason Mental Health and Wellness Fund. This fund will provide improvements within the Athletics Department Mental Health and Wellness Resources. Included in these resources are counseling services, educational opportunities, training, and programming for all students-athletes, coaches and support staff. 

“Mental health is not something that is talked about a lot in the football world,” Offensive Lineman Jacob South said. “We are always just talking about football and there are a lot of guys who struggle with mental health. It is nice to have someone come in and actually talk to you and tell you that you are not alone in this or there are people who are wanting to talk to you about it and want to listen. I am really grateful we are having this week dedicated to the cause because it is an important issue, especially for college athletes.”

This week, many football players on the USU football Instagram have shared their stories and personal experiences dealing with mental health. One story that stood out was Seni Tuiaki aka Turbo. He shared on Instagram that when going through many injuries and dealing with all of them, it put him into a dark place mentally. Being in this dark place, he felt himself losing courage in asking for help from others and even his family members. Tuiaki explains it put him into places he never thought of finding himself battling through, including thoughts during that night where he couldn’t take being alive anymore and thought of giving up. One night specifically he speaks about is one where he was ready to end it all kneeling on the floor begging and asking for any courage or help. While kneeling he felt his Heavenly Father’s love. This gave him courage to see the big picture of how much his family would be impacted if he decided to take his own life. After begging for help, he got the courage to go speak to coach Anderson in his office about the silent battles he was no longer willing to face alone. After the visit with Anderson, “Turbo” was able to get the resources that were needed in order to help with his mental state. Tuiaki explains that even though you look like you are a big, strong, buff football player it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help and struggle. It is not a sign of being weak to go talk to a therapist about depression or bad mental health either. He is grateful to have gone through a bad mental state because it has given him resources that he can rely on daily. 

Mental Health Awareness should be spread around and not kept silent. It is something that so many people around the world are struggling with. Just know you are not alone and there are so many people that want you to reach out and find the strength to know it’s okay to not be okay. Just know there are so many resources at USU that are available for you or anyone in need. If you are in need of someone to talk to there is always the Suicide Hotline Number 1-800-273-8255.

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