Tackling Mental Health

Impact Story

Isaiah Neil understands that being a university student can be challenging and even more so being a student-athlete.

The pressure to succeed in both academics and athletics caused Isaiah to feel increasingly overwhelmed. Feeling trapped and helpless, Isaiah believed, “It’s a part of life and I gotta get through it.” But when a concussion kept him from classes and football, his anxiety progressed to feeling suicidal. Realizing he needed help, he turned to his coaches and athletic staff for help.

Isaiah recalls knowing nothing about mental health. He didn’t know what he needed, what to ask for, or what to expect. Isaiah relied on his football team to be the support he was searching for. Thanks to the Golden Bears Football team and the University of Alberta Director of Athletics, Isaiah was connected with a therapist — one of the first steps on his mental health journey.

Once referred to a therapist, Isaiah found insight and regained hope. He also learned his journey was not a straightforward one. New challenges brought on by life as a university student-athlete require new solutions.

“I was able to change my way of thinking about things and see the light again… have a reason for living and see that this wasn’t the end; there’s so much more to come. This was just kind of like a dark point in my life.”

He explains how seeking help can feel like searching in the dark and that the trial and error of therapists and medications can become exhausting. When you are worn down and you hit a wall, things need to be straightforward. Integrated youth services like Kickstand keep it simple. A hub for resources, young people can access free mental health support and substance counselling through Kickstand Connect.

Today, Isaiah is much further along on his journey and is proud of what he has overcome. He hopes others read his story and find comfort in knowing they are not alone. And that one day, they will also wear their story as a badge of honour.

64 percent of student feel anxiety

The Mental Health Foundation is proud to fund integrated youth services, like Kickstand, which provides mental health resources for young people aged 12-25 in Alberta.

Kickstand would have opened my eyes to the fact that there are resources out there. We just don’t really talk about it because it’s shameful and negative to go use those resources … I think it really would’ve helped me to have more options.
Isaiah Neil


Improve access to mental health care for young people like Isaiah.