On April 30, a charity basketball 3 on 3 tournament was held in Shapiro Gymnasium of the Gosman Sports Center. The tournament raised funds for the Doc Wayne Foundation, a local organization promoting mental health awareness through participation in sports. 17 teams of Brandeis students were divided into coed varsity, mens, and womens divisions to compete and play for the cause. 

The Doc Wayne Foundation is a non-profit organization that aims to reimagine therapy through the lens of sports. With its innovative approach of sport-infused therapy, the organization has helped improve mental health of the students in the greater Boston area since 2002 and has been awarded grants in recent years from the NBC network in support of their contribution. The Doc Wayne Foundation works with the Brandeis Rotaract Club and varsity basketball player Collin Sawyer ’M 22, who is also the president of the Rotaract Club. In his address at the event, Sawyer emphasized the importance of mental health awareness and shared his own experience as a six-year student athlete. 

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, and affects our everyday life. While there have been improvements in the public discourse of mental health in recent decades, a lot can still be done in the future. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during the pandemic, about three out of four Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 have reported poor mental health. In addition, data shows that student athletes are 2% more likely to experience severe mental illness than their non-athlete counterparts due to a variety of reasons. 

In the field of competitive sports, there remains a stigma about mental health being a sign of weakness. Student athletes spend their college life with athletic competition being central to their experiences. They have to balance classes, practices, conditionings, games, and socializing on a day-to-day basis. On top of that, injuries, wins and losses, homesickness, and their individual performances pose challenges to their mental health as well. As student athletes are expected to be “mentally tough,” the mental health struggles they face are often overlooked and masked under their outward “success.” 

As we enter Mental Health Awareness month, we are and should all be encouraged to speak up about mental health and share our struggles when comfortable. Mental health is an inherent aspect of all of our lives. It is a priority to be aware and take care of the mental well-being of every individual, including ourselves.