Invisible monsters can still breathe underwater. The silent struggle that many swimmers of all ages and levels deal with, is not an easy one to see.
Without the education and awareness towards mental illness, it would be difficult for many, to respond to and support a person with this condition.
LEARNING ABOUT DEMONS:
Knowledge is power. In order to understand someone’s mental illness, it is important to be well educated about the subject.
Creating an engaging learning environment can help athletes and coaches know and understand the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses. A great application of this principle took place in 2013 when California passed a new law that made it mandatory to educate students of all ages about mental illness. “Some of the topics that will be covered in the new curriculum include warning signs, symptoms, and definitions of common disorders, how to obtain mental health services and insight to overcoming stigma.” (Psych Central). Such exposure to accurate information about mental illness can help teammates and coaches recognize the possible signs and symptoms in themselves and each other.
RESPONDING TO FOOTPRINTS:
The storm can be alarming once you spot the red flags. The best way to respond to this is to encourage athletes to seek out professional treatment.
“Encourage your loved one to talk to a trusted health care provider. If he or she is hesitant to see a mental health specialist such as a psychologist, suggest a visit to a general physician.” (American Psychological Association). Admitting that there is a problem, can be hard for anyone. However, having an extra voice come in and boost their courage can help add momentum to the healing process.
JOINING THE FOOTPRINTS:
Mental illness is a worldwide issue that people battle with every day. These fighters strive to taste the light at the end of the tunnel. Every warrior needs all the support that they can get, and one doesn’t have to completely understand mental illness in order to help.
“Stigma can lead to problems accessing any available help, inability to gain employment, reduction in financial options and social isolation, as well as personal distress.” (National Elf Service). Action such as marches, blogs, fundraisers, or breaking the acceptance of romanticizing mental illness can help reduce the stigma that pollutes recovery. Although paradigm shifts are a slow process, each hand that holds up a lantern makes the path to recovery more luminous.
Knowledge about mental illness, knowing how to respond to warning signs, and being part of a support group are three ways in which one can help a person battle this condition.
We can all dig our fingers in the flames of the fight. Creating a mental health-friendly environment in and out of the pool can help athletes feel supported, and at ease. Efforts such as introducing campaigns at swim meets, and hosting mental health lectures and workshops for parents and athletes, can help reach that “safe space” goal.
In the end, implementing the three steps listed above can enable each and every one of us to contribute to the roaring fire.
Glynn, Shirley M., Ph.D., Karen Kangas, EdD, and Susan Pickett, Ph.D. “Supporting a Family Member with Serious Mental Illness.” American Psychological Association. American Psychological Association, n.d. Web. 14 June 2017.
Nauert, Rick, Ph.D. “Tools To Reduce Stigma of Mental Illness.” Psych Central News. N.p., 06 Oct. 2015. Web. 14 June 2017.
Meradji, Paniz. “Bringing Mental Health to the Forefront of Education.” World of Psychology. N.p., 30 Apr. 2014. Web. 14 June 2017.
Steele, David. “How Can We Reduce Mental Health Stigma and Discrimination?” National Elf Service. N.p., 10 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 June 2017.
This article was inspired by my former teammates and coaches on Academy of Texas Aquatic Champions. They surround me with love and support and have always lit my path!
I wrote a poem dedicated to them called Be Like Us… because you really should.
Each day is a challenge that comes with a lifetime of rewards.
Those who beg to differ have never truly lived.
- Jharna Sutaria
Jharna Sutaria is a dazzling 17-year old who dreams of tracing her imprint on the world. As someone who is dealing with mental illness, Jharna believes in raising awareness and educating others about the subject. She wants to break the stigma that surrounds the invisible demons, through her writing.
Jharna’s first publication was at the age of 9 when one of her pieces was selected for the book, A Celebration of Poets. Over the past year, she has claimed Honorable Mention in the 2016-2017 Coppell Gifted Association (CGA) Creative Writing Competition. Jharna works as marketing designer for Academy of Texas Aquatic Champions (ATAC) Swim Club, and Light Heart, Focused Mind (LHFM) Foundation. She is in the process of writing her first novel, thank you, and created a poetry blog called Outburst. Jharna aspires to be an author and creative writing teacher when she graduates school.
The young woman has been in treatment since the winter of 2015 and is staying strong in her recovery. Some of the major things that get her through each day are her purpose, her heartbeat, and her story.
As a resident of Palo Alto, California, Jharna attends Paly Senior High School and is a swimmer on PASA (Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics). She adores her 15-year-old sister, Arnavi, and her 8-year-old dog, Mandy.
Link to Outburst: http://jharnasutaria.wixsite.com/outburst