Written by FSU Sports Information intern Cailin Kaklamanos
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | SEMINOLES.COM – September marks National Recovery Month along with National Suicide Prevention Month. Studies have shown 33 percent of young adults, especially college students and athletes, have struggled with anxiety, depression, and other mental health illnesses. Many people do not receive help due to the stigma surrounding mental health. However, Florida State volleyball player Marissa Stockman is determined to end this label by sharing her story and hopes to turn her passion about mental health into a career.
Stockman, a senior from Clear Lake, Wisconsin, is a middle blocker for the Seminoles. Her passion about mental health stems from her own experiences. Stockman’s personal struggles with mental health started in high school.
During this time she would tell herself that it was impossible to be a Division I athlete and have a mental illness. As time went on, however, she began to understand that mental health was more pervasive than she originally thought.
“It was really hard for me to accept for a really long time,” Stockman added. “As I got older, I kept going to therapy and getting treatment. I eventually did make it to playing Division I volleyball. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I finally realized that I’m not the only athlete that goes through this.”
She noticed that discussions surrounding mental health were not often spoken about.
“It was always shoved under the table for a lot of people,” she said.
However, Stockman acknowledged that conversations about mental health are becoming more normalized. Athletes such as Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka have spoken openly about their mental health, which is an inspiration to Stockman. This also serves as a reminder that it is okay not to be okay, even as an athlete.
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“You can still have depression, you can still have anxiety. You can still have whatever is going on with people and still be an athlete,” she added.
After her own experiences and research, Stockman has realized the prevalence of mental health and being a college athlete.
“It does take a mental toll on you to be a college athlete,” Stockman said. “It’s so much time you have to put in and a lot of added pressure. You’re doing three or four hour practices a day along with being a full-time student. There are a lot of pressures that are added when you’re a student-athlete that I think would affect anyone’s mental health.”
Stockman’s mental health is the best it has ever been and is considered to be in remission. She gives credit to therapy and the services provided by Florida State University and her coaches.
“In a lot of ways, volleyball has saved my life,” Stockman said.
Through her own experiences and growth, the senior psychology major hopes to help others in the future.
“I don’t want anyone to feel the way I felt in those times. I don’t want a single person to ever feel down or alone. I want people to know there are others there who feel the same way,” she added emphatically.
Stockman is looking forward to pursuing her master’s degree in Clinical or Forensic Psychology. She is passionate about helping adolescents or may want to be a counselor to inmates. She believes that many people who commit crimes have underlying mental health issues and are not receiving the treatment they need.
Stockman is a shining example of bravery and strength. Her story and experiences have allowed her to empathize with others. Her journey is a reminder that mental health is just as important as physical health. She possesses a lot of empathy, compassion and understanding for those struggling. Those exceptional traits will allow her to make an impact on others and effectively share her story as a lesson on perseverance.