Editor’s Note: This story includes mentions of suicide and mental health conditions.
Students at Saint Mary’s are hoping to foster a more open and honest community through one of its new clubs, Morgan’s Message. Founded by the friends and family of Morgan Rodgers, a women’s lacrosse player at Duke University who died by suicide in 2019, the nonprofit organization has spread across various college campuses with the goal of ending the stigma around mental health.
Erin Dotson, the president of Morgan’s Message and a senior on the Saint Mary’s lacrosse team, said she has spent much of her time trying to grow the club and promoting the importance of engaging in conversations about mental health throughout the campus community.
“After a close friend of mine had passed away from mental health not too long ago, it really pushed me to want to do this,” Dotson said.
Dotson said it is important to let people know that it is “OK not to be OK,” and there are resources out there to help people who are struggling.
Other Saint Mary’s students are also working toward the goal of destigmatizing mental health. Junior Anne Goralczyk serves as a campus captain for The Hidden Opponent, an organization founded by former USC volleyball player Victoria Garrick that provides mental health resources for athletes.
Goralczyk said she is excited about a new campaign Morgan’s Message is about to launch at the College.
“We’re so excited about a campaign where we will choose an athlete from each of the eight teams here at Saint Mary’s,” she said. “We will take a photo of them on their respective fields, then they come up with an impact statement about mental health and we post the photos around campus. It’s an easy way to spread awareness and encourage conversation.”
In addition to the Dotson and Goralczyk’s efforts, several other Saint Mary’s student-athletes have publicly expressed a desire to uplift the campus by informing students of healthy outlets when dealing with mental health struggles.
One of these students is Izzi Linus, vice president of Morgan’s Message and a Saint Mary’s soccer player.
“I hope to spread awareness around campus and hopefully the tri-campus community,” Linus said. “There have been so many instances in the past year with athletes taking their own lives, and I hope to spread awareness and reach as many people as possible.”
Sophomore Valentina Rubio is the secretary of Morgan’s Message and a member of the lacrosse team. She has also worked to try to make the new club a place where students can feel comfortable expressing their feelings toward peers about their own personal struggles.
“I would like Morgan’s Message to be an option for everyone,” Rubio said. “If you do a sport or don’t do a sport, just to be able to spread more awareness and have it be more student to student rather than student to adult. It’s important so that we can grow in community and confide in one another.”
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