The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)

Athletes discuss mental health, communicat­ion

- By Steve Megargee

MADISON, WIS. » Wisconsin soccer player Emma Jaskaniec remembers feeling hesitant about getting help before her freshman season when a psychologi­st approached the team to offer assistance to anyone in need.

“In my eyes, at least at that point in time, I felt like if I had to reach out to him, it had to be like I was having really dark thoughts,” Jaskaniec said. “It wasn’t really normalized and it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, if you’re feeling anxious you can reach out to him.’ I don’t think they meant for it to be like that, but I think in my eyes and a lot of other athletes’ eyes, it was like it had to be such a serious issue.”

Jaskaniec said things have changed on campus over the last year — mental health is a more common topic in the locker room. It was also the topic of discussion Tuesday night for a panel of current and former Wisconsin athletes.

The event came three weeks after Wisconsin cross country and track runner Sarah Shulze’s death, though it was scheduled well beforehand. Shulze’s family announced last month that the 21-year-old took her own life on April 13.

Shulze is one of three Division I athletes who took their own lives in the past two months. Stanford soccer player Katie Meyer, the goalkeeper on the Cardinal’s 2019 national championsh­ip team, died March 1. James Madison softball player Lauren Bernett, who helped the team get to the Women’s College World Series last year, died April 25.

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