Georgia football: Celebrating mental health sends strong message

Georgia coach Kirby Smart celebrates with fans during the the national championship parade and celebration in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022.News Joshua L Jones
Georgia coach Kirby Smart celebrates with fans during the the national championship parade and celebration in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022.News Joshua L Jones /

Georgia football announced on Friday that the team would participate in Mental Health Week. In this world that we live in today, it’s fantastic to see the university take that initiative.

Mental health is so important, especially for student athletes who have so much pressure on them to perform at these high levels. When the university announced it would acknowledge this, it was essential to write about it.

This initiative works with Hilinski’s Hope, which is a nonprofit organization that focuses on mental health in student athletes. It’s great to see Georgia work with this excellent organization and show its student athletes how much they care about them.

Georgia football will wear stickers on October 8 in support of Mental Health Week.

Hilinski’s Hope has a mission to promote awareness and education of mental health and wellness for student athletes. It wants to eventually eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness while funding programs that provide these student-athletes with the resources they need.

After Tyler Hilinski, a Washington State quarterback who died by suicide in 2018, his parents formed this nonprofit to help other student athletes know that it’s okay not to be okay. Mental health is such a complex subject to discuss, then you throw in being a football player at a collegiate level on top of the school work, and it can be challenging.

This initiative is so important because so many forget that these athletes are humans who have feelings too. So many fans rattle off about their favorite teams and the programs they cannot stand without realizing some of the things they say are hurtful. These athletes can take criticism, but there is a fine line between constructive criticism and flat-out judgment.

Georgia decided to participate in the 2022 Mental Health Week with Hilinski’s Hope Foundation during the Oct. 1-8 week, which coincides with Mental Illness Awareness Week.

World Mental Health Day is on Oct. 10, so this foundation paired with various college football teams to curate a collective week of action focused on educating people about campus mental health resources.

Unless a student athlete deems it okay and is brave enough to tell the world they are struggling, a lot of that goes undetected because maybe they feel shame.

However, seeing universities come together and send the message that mental health is just as important as physical lets those who are having a hard time know it’s okay to talk about it.

Kudos to Georgia for joining this initiative, and even bigger props to athletic director Josh Brooks for supporting this. It shows current and future athletes of not just football but all sports at the University of Georgia that their school cares.

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Georgia will don the sticker during the Auburn game at home between the hedges that week in October, and it will be a defining moment. Check out Hilinski’s Hope through their website to learn more about what they do for student athletes.