New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Mental health awareness for student-athletes at NYU

NYU opened its very own branch of The Hidden Opponent, a mental health nonprofit organization for student-athletes.
Calista Lynch and Kaley McIntyre (left to right) (Courtesy of NYU Athletics)

This academic year, NYU has finally opened up its chapter of The Hidden Opponent, a nonprofit dedicated to raising mental health awareness, in collaboration with Campus Captains sophomore Kaley McIntyre and first-year Calista Lynch — members of the NYU women’s swimming and diving team. 

“Growing up as a competitive athlete, I struggled with my own mental health often,” Lynch told WSN. “When I found out about the impact, resources and community that THO had, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to continue my passion for mental health at NYU.” 

 A survey conducted by the National Collegiate Athletics Association from September 2022 to June 2023 found that out of 23,000 athletes across all NCAA divisions, 16% of male athletes feel “mentally exhausted,” with the percentage of female athletes being higher at 35%. The same survey also reported that 17% of male athletes say they are “constantly feeling overwhelmed,” while 44% of female athletes felt the same way. 

The THO reports that an estimated 92% of colleges lack the appropriate resources for student-athletes. The supportive and welcoming environment fostered by Campus Captains — who help lead the initiative at their respective universities — allows student-athletes to openly talk about their mental health struggles while also educating them on resources from THO and at NYU. Lynch said these resources and the THO community will “be a great way to break the stigma around talking about your own mental health as a student-athlete.”

McIntyre said a student’s responsibilities with THO are “as much or as little as you would like,” and that the minimum requirement for students is to participate in at least one event or activity per month and report on it.

“Being a student-athlete is so difficult, and adding on the lack of recognition or support from the school can lead student-athletes to struggle in silence,” McIntyre said in an interview with WSN. “At a minimum, raising awareness for mental health struggles, especially in student-athletes, is going to make a difference in at least one person’s life.”

The Violets hosted their first event in January at the NYU v. Stevens Institute of Technology swim meet, handing out green ribbons, an international symbol of mental health awareness, to the swimmers.

Lynch is looking into bringing in professional mental health speakers to NYU and hosting mental health awareness games on campus and “Green Games” days for athletic events. Although those are more hands-on goals, the duo hopes to bring the NYU Athletics community together by providing a “safe and supportive environment” within the club. 

Even though their work here has just started, McIntyre and Lynch are eager to create a meaningful and lasting impact, not only within the NYU Athletics community but the university as a whole.

Contact Nicole Ranile at [email protected].

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