Former college athlete discusses mental health with student body

Former+college+athlete+discusses+mental+health+with+student+body

By Emma Clarke, Staff Reporter

Long hours studying, a calendar filled with upcoming assignments and time-consuming extracurricular activities can often lead to a lot of stress for the average high school student. Although many high-schoolers share this common experience, they often feel alone while going through it. 

Andrew Onimus, a former college athlete, spoke to students about this issue on Nov. 11 as a part of Minding Your Mind, an organization dedicated to ending the stigma around mental health. 

Entering his senior year at Muhlenberg College, Onimus was a starting defensive back for the football team, named captain of the track and field team, and already had a full-time position upon graduation with a large accounting firm in Philadelphia.

However, an injury put a halt to Onimus’ athletic success and he fell into a deep depression, initially hiding his struggles from his friends and family. After a long journey to recovery, Onimus heard about the work Minding Your Mind was doing and reached out to them.

“My family and I thought I had a hopeful story of struggle and recovery and I wanted to see if I could help in anyway, even if it is only one student or person in an assembly. I feel like if I had an assembly or conversation like this when I was in middle school, high school or college, I would have learned a few things about mental health and told someone I was struggling way sooner,” Onimus said.

Today, Onimus works full-time for Minding Your Mind, speaking for schools and communities in the area.

Onimus began his presentation on a light-hearted note, sharing some of his favorite coping skills — such as eating Frosted Mini Wheats — for when he is going through more difficult times in his life. He then went into recognizing the issues high schoolers may face today, followed by his own story about mental health.

Like Onimus, Conestoga recognizes the challenges that high schoolers face today. The assembly was originally introduced in 2015 to ’Stoga in order to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and offer students positive coping mechanisms. Senior Jane Castleman felt that the presentation had a positive effect on the students.

“The assembly was important for destigmatizing mental health and creating a closer community. It reminds us that we can always offer and ask for help if anyone needs it,” Castleman said.

While Onimus notes the mental health issues high schoolers may face today, he offers advice for those moving onto the next stage of their lives.

“For students getting ready for college, jobs, trade schools, community college, or whatever might be next, I think the two most important things are to ask for help when you need it and to find things that make you happy,” Onimus said. “Do your best, keep your favorite things around, help others when you can, and ask for help when you need it. All will work out in the end.”