Heart to Heart Initiative for Student Athletes

By Kaylin Huey

Staff Reporter

You may have seen student-athletes around campus sporting bright green bracelets. If you have, they represent the Heart to Heart Initiative at Sacred Heart University.

Heart to Heart Initiative is a campaign on Sacred Heart’s campus that aims to help students with mental illness get the support and help they need.

This initiative was started this year and came about at a perfect time, as there has been an increasing gap in the mental health care system.

“It’s okay to not be okay,” said senior Devan Kane, who is on the Division I Hockey team.

Kane was the one who came up with the idea last summer with the help of her athletic trainer, Casey Quinn. She had heard of other universities having similar organizations that help its students with mental health and thought it would be an incredible opportunity to help her fellow students.

She wanted to create an organization of support because of her own battle with depression during her early years at Sacred Heart. Kane also discussed the benefits of the Wellness Center, and the number of other resources Sacred Heart offers.

“The Athletic Department is a place for your physical health, and the Wellness Center is for your other needs, but there is such a stigma about it,” said Kane.

Through a survey Kane created, she found that 61.34% said yes to the question: “Have you ever personally, or any teammates, had mental health issues (depression, anxiety, eating, sleeping) that you are aware of?” She found that of those people that answered yes, 39.08% displayed that, “those teammates used the Wellness Center.”

“As for my team, I mean I know they all don’t suffer, but they’re such a good group of people, and we are all there for each other, and this just gave more reason to us to show how we are as a group,” said Kane.

Heart to Heart Initiative meets once per month. At these meetings, members discuss different possible ideas and events that will help to spread awareness about mental illness.

Members of the initiative first started as just Kane’s Division I Hockey Team. Now, they are collaborating with other teams, including the softball team and men’s tennis team.

One of their recent events included the men’s hockey game, which was held on Jan. 26-27. This event helped raise a total of $470 for Bridge Health Care in Milford, Conn.

Another one of their events was the dodgeball game called “Knock out Depression,” which was held last semester.

Even though Kane is a senior, she still wants to make sure her campaign sticks on campus. Her campaign will continue to help college athletes and help spread better awareness on the issues that surround mental health.

“Heart to Heart has helped me personally,” said Kane. “Because, [for me] just being able to talk about my issues, which I thought would be really hard, ended up not only helping me more in healing, but I also know it also helped other people, and that makes me feel good too.”

Check out Heart to Heart on their Instagram, @shuhearttoheart. Their Instagram keeps their followers up-to-date on the campaign’s events, and ways on how you can contribute to help spread the word about mental illness with athletes at Sacred Heart.

“We stand behind the cause because we care about one another, but also know it hurts a lot of others,” said Kane.

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