Recently in the last year, I have begun to open up to people about my struggle with mental illnesses. This is especially difficult because I am a student-athlete.

As a student-athlete we are held to higher standards, to be role models and to guide those around us that aren't also athletes. But what happens when you have a mental illness and feel like you can't be a good role model to others?

NOTHING! There is nothing different between a student-athlete with a mental illness and a student-athlete without one. Honestly, the only difference, in my opinion, is you know yourself a little better.

So why is there this stigma that these athletes should be scared to come out with their mental illnesses? Personally, it was one of the best things I have ever done. I feel like I don't have to hide a part of who I am anymore and I don't have to explain every action I take anymore. It has honestly been a huge relief.

I know another thing some student-athletes are worried about is getting support, but let me be the first to tell you, your team will be your biggest supporters. My team has been nothing but great with everything I have been through and I could not thank them enough for that.

SO, I have come up with an action plan to get yourself to the point that I am at:

1. Get to a point where you are comfortable with your own mental state

2. Know the group that you are going to be telling

3. Trust the love and support you receive from your team and coaches

4. Never ever forget to love yourself and tell yourself that you are enough and that no matter what, everything will end up okay.

Student-athletes don't have to be perfect either, love yourself first.

-Mack