Three Pitt students are starting a club to address mental health stigma among student athletes
According to Olivia Zambrio, both her favorite and the most challenging part of her role as a Morgan’s Message ambassador is sharing her own mental health story.
“I love the idea that my story might be helping others who are also struggling, but it’s also really tough to put my story out there like that,” Zambrio, a junior neuroscience and psychology major, said. “It was a tough time that I went through and it’s not always easy to talk about, but the idea that it’s helping others, even if it’s just one other, makes it easier to do.”
Zambrio ran cross country and track for Pitt during her first year and half of her sophomore year, but said she decided to step away to focus on her mental health. After leaving the sport, Zambrio said she applied to become an ambassador after she saw a post on Instagram about a Morgan’s Message dedication game at Duke University to support other student-athletes struggling with mental health.
Student-athletes are more susceptible to developing eating disorders than nonathletes, according to Amy Gooding, a clinical psychologist at the Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood and Anxiety Center. Gooding said student-athletes face pressures and challenges that can trigger or contribute more to the severity of mental health issues.
“Student-athletes are often having to balance their busy practice and school schedules, manage pressures to perform on and off the field, have challenges associated with the media and peers, have to cope with injuries, experience performance anxiety or the need to please their coaches or teammates,” Gooding said.