Volleyball has their mind on mental health awareness

Mary Liz Flavin | News Editor. Duquesne women's volleyball played Davidson in a mental health awareness match. The girls gave it their all as they took on the opposing team. In between sets students learned facts about mental health over the sound system.

Mary Liz Flavin | news editor

Oct. 14, 2021

Duquesne women’s volleyball put a new spin on ‘get your head in the game’. Students excitedly watched as Duquesne versed Davidson in a very special match. 

On Sunday Oct 10, the women’s volleyball team hosted a Mental Health Awareness Volleyball Game in the Cooper Fieldhouse with the help of student organizations Active Minds and Unpack U. In this game students could learn more about mental health via the information tables held by both groups along with an additional table where Counselling Services was set up. 

Maura Fleming, president of Active Minds, spoke about how they are centered around raising mental health awareness on campus and making sure students have access to resources both on campus and out in the community. 

“Today we are doing a self-care check-in to gauge where you’re at today and then based on what you answer, we can send resource guides to people maybe if they are struggling and feel like [they] don’t have someone to talk to,” Fleming said. 

Students can get involved by looking up Active Minds on CampusLink, emailing Fleming directly or getting in touch via Instagram @activeminduquesne. 

“I’m just really happy the Duquesne athletics reached out to us, I think that speaks about where they are trying to go and how they are trying to help and make it more of a conversation for student athletes,” Fleming said. 

Haley Poling, a junior on Duquesne women’s volleyball, thinks the game was a great way to bring awareness to a recurring problem amongst students. In addition this game meant a lot to her because she felt she was playing for something more. 

“I think it was different than most games because we got to play for something that meant a lot to us as a team. We care for each other so much and being able to play for a cause felt as if we were playing for everyone struggling with their personal mental health,” Poling said.

Mckenna Johnson, former Duquesne student, attended the volleyball game and was excited that mental health was being discussed during the match. 

“I knew it was mental health awareness week. I work at UPMC so we are doing stuff like that and it’s really big to me. I’m a huge supporter of those things, I wasn’t aware that Duquesne was doing it but I’m so proud,” Johnson said. 

Unpack U, a nonprofit organization, fosters connections between mental health resources on campus and students according to ambassador Hervinah Celestin. 

Celestin and fellow ambassador Rosie Donatien had students fill out affirmation cards that they would later distribute. Students could write a positive message and leave it for the next person behind them, and in return they received a sugar scrub, hat or hand sanitizer. 

“There are a bunch of ways to get involved, I know as of recently they were looking for more ambassadors because we are the only two on Duquesne’s campus. UnpackU events take place on Pittsburgh-wide campuses so there are also ambassadors at Pitt, RMU, and the like,” Donatien said. 

Students who are interested can follow UnpackU’s Instagram @unpackupgh or email Celestin and Donatien directly. 

Lauren Harron, a supporter of the Davidson team, commented on the connection between sports and mental health.

“I definitely think they are heavily connected. Sports in general, especially college sports, can have so much pressure on student athletes, they have the stress and pressure of school work as well and then also being in college itself,” Harron said. 

As a student-athlete Poling experiences the added pressure and thinks that all students should reach for help when needed. 

“Asking for help shows a sign of strength, not weakness,” Poling said.