This athlete's decision to leave team brings attention to mental health in college sports
Mental health is a topic that comes with a stigma, especially in certain communities. For many, expressing that they have a mental illness is as equal as expressing a weakness. No one wants to seem weak, so people hide behind their symptoms afraid to seek treatment. Afraid to step from behind the fear and shadows, we have seen the impacts of mental illness going untreated and undiagnosed. The truth of the matter is, you are not alone. Thanks to a college athlete, we are reminded that we are human and being human means being honest with yourself
As a freshman, Isaiah Woods played in every one of the University of Washington's football games. As a rising star, Woods had 13 catches during the season and was sure to have a promising career in the NFL one day. Unexpectedly upon arriving at Washington, Woods started to experience symptoms of anxiety. In an interview with ESPN, he discusses how his journey to diagnosis began. During a road trip to play against Oregon State he experienced what he believes is his first anxiety attack. "I remember putting my head on the seat in front of me and trying to catch my breath, trying to slow my breathing down. By that time, it was too late. The last thing I remember is being on the bus and then waking up at the hotel." That anxiety attack was only the beginning for Woods. From then on he experienced bouts of depression, forcing him at times to not want to get out of bed. His symptoms began to take over and he missed spring practice. Woods was hospitalized after he began to feel the lowest of lows. It was then that he made the decision to step away from football. This is a huge decision for such a talented player, but the NCAA is starting to see more college athletes suffering from mental health issues. The NCAA issued a Mental Health Best Practices Guide to help address some of these issues and prepare coaches and staff alike on how to address them
In May, Woods tweeted what should be known as one of the best tweets by a college football player. Addressing the need to take care of his mental health, he released a statement telling his truth on Twitter and showing us that none of us are alone in this battle
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' Best wishes to Isaiah Woods on finding his place of peace and managing his health
Been debating on posting this but this is me taking steps in the right direction to becoming myself again.. pic.twitter.com/ptE1k9oKKJ— Isaiah Woods (@WaveGodZay) May 29, 2016'