The subject of mental health is often overlooked in the sports community. As ultimate players, coaches, and teammates, we hope that by presenting some of the viewpoints held by members of the community, we’ll be able to increase awareness and encourage discussion about this important topic.
“I’ve been struggling a lot with my mental health recently and ultimate has been both a positive and negative thing in the last few weeks. It got me thinking about what other people’s experiences in the community were. So when I got the opportunity to run this account for a week I thought it could be a good chance to reach out and ask the question. I did not expect the reaction and the amount of people that have shared their experiences is inspirational. The more we talk about mental health in our community, the more we break down the stigma. It truly has been amazing to see how many people have had similar experiences with their mental health and ultimate. It’s been such a great reminder that we are not alone in this.”
- Rebecca Thompson (current handler of the BeingUlti account)
In June 2017, Being Ulti (@being_ulti) started a twitter thread that sparked a conversation about mental health in the ultimate community, and the ultimate community had a lot to say. Here are some of those views.
“...As for how ultimate has helped me deal with things, that's a bigger can of worms that I've always gone back and forth on. Sometimes it's the place where I'm more in the moment than anywhere else in life, and sometimes it's a real drain, where generating energy and not feeling judged (largely by myself, at the end of the day) is very hard.
The biggest thing is that I would encourage anyone who is feeling depressed, or even just kind of down for a prolonged period, to talk to a professional. Players go to doctors and PTs all the time for hamstring pulls and ankle sprains and back pain and all the other good stuff, and I don't think we do enough to tell people that if you're hurting emotionally, there are people who can and will help with that, too. You wouldn't expect yourself to fix your own torn ACL, and in the same way you don't need to put the pressure completely on yourself to emerge from a difficult mental space. I think the more we normalize talking to therapists and doctors about what's on your mind, the better.”
- Jonathan Neeley
“I've only recently been able to open up about this side of ultimate, and it's due in part to the recent conversations in the community. Especially as a captain of a team, you're expected to have it together and be 'on' at all times, making it hard to acknowledge or ask for help. I didn't, and it really took it's toll, leading me to completely walk away from a team this year. I don't want that to happen to others- everyone, leadership especially, should be able to be open about mental health.”
- Ryan Anderson
“This is a conversation that I believe we should take back to our teams and make sure we keep creating a safe space among our teammates <3”
Things are already happening. By getting a conversation going, the ultimate community has already started lessening the stigma surrounding mental illness. Since it already has a reputation of acceptance and individuality, ultimate is uniquely placed to open up a conversation as well as making it clear that everyone is welcome, and creating a safe space for anybody who wants to share, not share, or just feel supported with or without any mental issues they might struggle with. Nothing is more dangerous to someone dealing with a mental disorder than silence or ignorance on the part of the community, and talking about it, spreading information and demonstrating acceptance is incredibly valuable for people affected by mental issues and those who support them - their teams, their friends, and the ultimate community as a whole.
So spread the word and join the conversation.
ARIA Ultimate is a proud supporter of the ultimate community and everyone in it. We want to help continue the conversation surrounding mental health and ultimate, and would love to hear from you!
One of ARIA’s tenets is giving back to the ultimate community by donating discs through a 1-for-1 model to organizations giving back to the ultimate community athletically and socially. Conversations like this one around mental health mean a great deal to us, and we want to support them however possible. If you know of any ultimate organizations working with the issue, we’d love to get in touch! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out our social partner application here.
As Ultimate players, we know the value of community and interpersonal connections through ultimate. Let’s keep the conversation going and remember we are NEVER alone. Help us spread community values and support to those in need by contributing to our 1-for-1 program in our online store.