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The Head, the Heart and the Home Team

Boise State is a leader when it comes to mental health issues on- and off-campus

Shortly before the start of the French Open, Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka announced that she would not conduct interviews with the media. When she didn’t hold a press conference after winning her first match, she was fined $15,000. The following day, she dropped out of the tournament entirely, citing mental health issues.

Osaka’s departure from the tournament caused an uproar around the world. Sports fans, fellow athletes, performing artists and other cultural figures praised her decision to put her well-being ahead of the sport. Many began to openly discuss their own struggles for the first time, including American gymnast Simone Biles, who bowed out of most of her routines at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics over a case of the “yips” — a sudden and unexplained loss of skills in athletes.

The social outlook toward mental health has changed dramatically in recent years, accelerating, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. This outlook is in few places as prevalent as the university setting, where problems like depression, disordered body image and eating, addiction and substance abuse, stress and suicidal ideation are all too common. Through a bevy of programs that address these issues more quickly and effectively than in the past, and graduating mental health professionals tackling them off campus, Boise State University stands out as a leader in a global conversation and fostering a thriving community that promotes student success.

“Mental health is on the front-of-mind for everyone right now,” said Boise State Director of Counseling Services Matt Niece. “We have a very aware group of students at the university who know this is an important thing to do. We have a lot of empathetic people, and looking out for one another is a big, big thing that’s happening.”

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