Softball players at Adelphi University wear custom shirts with the phrase “Mental Health Matters” in support of student athletes and Morgan’s Message. PHOTO COURTESY OF MORGAN’S MESSAGE / ADELPHI UNIVERSITY
The first five months of 2022 alone had five student athletes across the country fall to the hardships of mental health and take their own lives. We can no longer pretend it isn’t happening.
“We need to normalize mental health maintenance in student-athletes,” says Heather Wolfe, head athletic trainer at Millersville University, “there is still a stigma associated with mental health. The more we can normalize talking about it, we can turn the saying of it being ‘okay to not be okay’ to more of a reality.”
Softball player Taylor Campagna recently took charge of a new group on campus called Morgan’s Message. Wolfe, along with senior associate director of athletics Larry Earnesty, have joined forces to help Campagna kick off this amazing program on the Millersville campus.
“I wanted to bring this program to Millersville because I think that it’s super important that we recognize the struggle that athletes go through with their mental health,” Campagna says. “Last year there were so many devastating losses in the athletic community, and I wanted to create a support system for athletes on campus.”
The program was started by the Rogers family after their daughter, Morgan, who left this world too soon. A high-caliber athlete on the Duke University women’s lacrosse team, she took her own life on July 11th, 2019, when she was just 22 years old.
The Rogers family’s main goal of this program is to show student athletes that mental health is just as important as physical health in athletes.
The program relies on peer to peer initiatives in order to reach athletes who may be struggling.
“Student- athletes are able to help themselves,” Wolfe explains, “sometimes it can be intimidating to come to an athletic trainer, doctor, or other healthcare professional for help, and it’s more comfortable telling a teammate or a coach. Having a program like this allows us to have resources in place.”
“I hope that we can break the stigma of mental health in student athletes. I want people to know that it is okay to talk about and not be seen as weak,” says Courtney Wengryn, a softball player and campus ambassador for Adelphi University’s chapter of Morgan’s Message.
Campagna, like Wengryn, tries to end the stigma of mental health in student athletes on our campus.
“I plan to have monthly meetings with different activities involving mental health as well as different speakers who can talk about their experiences and maybe some situations that they have been through that our athletes could relate to,” Campagna adds, “I also plan on hosting dedication games to honor Morgan Rogers, who the program was started for, as well as raise money to donate to other organizations who help with mental health.”
We can help to break the stigma, but it starts one student at a time right here at Millersville.