Ivy Watts Talks Mental Health At SAAC Retreat
Ivy Watts
Ivy Watts

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. – The GNAC SAAC retreat continued on Sunday with a guest appearance by Ivy Watts, a former Division II track and field standout at the University of New Haven.

Watts graduated from New Haven near the top of her class and was a finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award. Everyone thought she had her life put together but in reality, she was dealing with mental health problems that turned into crippling anxiety that affected her physical health.

Mental health is a critical component of life as a student-athlete. There is a stigma that athletes shouldn't have problems with their mental health because they are supposed to be strong. Society has said that people who struggle are weak, and Watts believed that stigma for a while. It wasn't until she got help and received therapy that she realized society has it all wrong.

"Athletics is 85 percent mental. The other 15 percent is hard work and talent. I forgot to nurture the 85 percent and only focused on the physical part of being a student-athlete," Watts said.

Watts uses her platform as a former student-athlete to tell her story through public speaking and her blog, Beautifully Simply You. As a guest speaker at the GNAC SAAC retreat, she discussed how to nurture mental health and how to help others who are having mental health problems, such as actively listening, being relatable, exploring resources and just being kind so they don't feel isolated.

Living in a pandemic world has not made dealing with mental health issues any easier. Athletes have a stigma to perform well athletically and academically while also having a social life. The pandemic has brought loss on various levels because there is the uncertainty of when life will go back to normal. Watts told the student-athletes that although they have fears, they should be empowered to reach their goals because they also have strengths.

The SAAC retreat's fifth session will be on Sunday, Oct. 25, with the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion.