Maya McClendon shared a beautiful and eye opening message with us about mental health and the black community. Maya is a former student athlete and is currently building a mental health app for athletes across the country.
“Mental health has been the silent killer for black female athletes that’s not talked about. To first understand the complexities of being a black female athlete you first must be able to grasp the fallacies of the conditions of each component that makes us us. On a daily basis, we are painfully aware of the oppression as black people in our very communities (police brutality and the microagressions expressed by our peers), we are constantly reminded by our perceived inferiority by the overwhelming leadership of men in our administrations, and we are continuously broken down physical and mentally by outdated methods of obedience as athletes. This intersectionality of being black, a female, and an athlete simultaneous is not often discussed, because that perspective is buried under the plight of black male athletes in high-profit sports. That makes them more important in a capitalistic structure. With us making less than 5% of all athletes in the NCAA, 39% of black female athletes feel overwhelming anxiety and 26% of black female athletes feel crippling depression; greater than any other demographic in sports. In addition to stigma, which is a barrier in help seeking for all of us, this burden leads us to early burnout and long lasting psychological hardships. But a silver lining, we are resilient, perhaps the most resilient, because that is a proven defining condition of being a black woman in America since we were brought to these very shores.
This is why I am creating a mental health app for athletes.
But ultimately it is up to the NCAA and governing institutions to prioritize the destigmatization of mental health and provide numerous and adequate representation among black mental health providers. This can no longer be optional at times like this.”