Mental Health Matters

Mental Health has been a hot topic across the country within college athletics. Experts are continuously navigating how student-athletes can efficiently and effectively manage their mental well-being. Rodrigo Robles, on the JMU Men’s Soccer team is taking matters into his own hands to enhance and encourage his fellow peers to shed positive light on mental health. Robles is a member of the JMU Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and serves as co-chair in Student-Athlete Wellness.

“Here, at JMU, SAAC is doing a great job of providing athletes with the necessary tools and information, such as group discussions facilitated by Body Positive Dukes, Dukes Excel, and Dukes Let’s Talk,” Rodrigo stated.

His passion for mental health has led him to participate in AthleteTalk, an internship opportunity that helps create content for a mental health and wellness app that uses image-based daily posts, multi-day plans, and videos to engage with student-athletes in daily reflection and applied exercises.

“I see mental health as a key component of performance. As student-athletes we are asked for many things not only in the classrooms, but also on the field. Mental health is important to achieve the goals we set for each semester or season, and often we don’t value it as much as we should. One of the goals of our society should be to get rid of the stigma around mental health. We all need help, and it is ok to just not feel okay.” – Rodrigo Robles

Through this virtual internship Rodrigo is able to create images, videos, and plans where he tries to inform and teach the users how to deal with some of the difficulties that an athlete’s life has.

“We create discussions and different exercises that challenge and guide the athletes to work on their well-being,” said Rodrigo.

Rodrigo is particularly excited about an upcoming event sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevents. Many student groups on campus are participating in the Out of the Darkness Walk April 10 at 12pm. Rodrigo has been leading the efforts of JMU SAAC to have representation of JMU student-athletes at this event.

“I encourage student-athletes to be open to share their feelings; don’t keep them to yourself. It is easier to deal with some things if you have help and if you have information and the tools to fight against those things,” Rodrigo said.