Mental Health activist speaks at D3 week

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David Romano of Active Minds gave a presentation in Meharry Hall this week on the importance of mental health with student athletes, telling his story, one filled with the struggles and hardships of depression.

The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) invited Romano his speech which was titled was titled, “It Wasn’t Supposed to Happen to Me.” Romano emphasized that taking care of your physical body is just as important as taking care of your mental well-being.

Romano’s speech began with startling facts surrounding mental health. For example, a quarter of adults have a mental health illness, and only a third of those adults seek help for their circumstances. Additionally, 1,100 suicides take place on college campuses each year. These statistics prove the importance of Romano’s presentation and the relevance of mental health for not only athletes, but for all students. He emphasized the idea of mental health not being an endpoint, but a progression with room for growth and improvement.

“It’s okay not to be okay, it’s okay to struggle, but it’s not okay to suffer in silence,” said Romano.

Romano concluded his speech by indicating three major takeaways. The takeaways from his speech included self care, normalizing the conversation on mental health and being supportive of one another. In order to explain the importance of supporting one another, he used an analogy of redwood trees. Redwood trees are massive in size and appear to be strong on the surface, but their strength comes from their roots, not from the tree itself.

“The strength comes from the roots of many redwoods intertwined far and wide. Let’s grow a mental health support system like the redwoods,” Romano said.

Junior women’s basketball player, Natalie Kehrt, found Romano’s story to be very beneficial. She found his advice applicable to all college students dealing with mental health issues. He spoke about very real and relatable topics.

“My hope is that the speaker encouraged even just one person in that room to go to a counselor or talk to someone and get the help that they need,” Kehrt said.

President of SAAC, junior Grace Haigh, invited Romano to speak as a part of D3 week, devoted to celebrating Division III student athletes. She found Romano’s speech to be a success and was \happy she choose him to come.

“I thought it was a really impactful and meaningful presentation. I appreciate David’s vulnerability and courage in sharing his story,” she said.

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