“To feel these as an athlete is not just understandable, it is an undiscussed part of the game”
By Clayton Jones, Assistant Athletic Director, Western Colorado University Communications
Western Colorado University student-athletes received an important presentation Wednesday evening—particularly with the current climate—as the founder of Alpine Orthopaedics and Alpine Surgery Center Dr. Gloria Beim spoke via Zoom webinar to the Mountaineers about mental health awareness in athletes.
With all RMAC fall athletic sports except cross-country and golf moved to the spring due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions and all Western student athletes facing a complete change in their routine, Beim—Western’s NCAA head team physician—spoke on numerous aspects of mental health.
“You might not think an orthopedist sees a lot of mental health problems, but I do,” Beim said. “When athletes get injured and they can no longer do those things they have trained so hard for or that have long defined them, they suffer. The same occurs when a season ends or the Olympics are over—or a pandemic occurs and entire seasons are canceled.
“To require mental health support is to be human; to experience challenges is to live in the modern world. To feel these as an athlete is not just understandable, it is an undiscussed part of the game.”
Beim, who is also the head team physician for the 2021 Paralympics in Tokyo and is the USOC Sports Medicine Medical Standards co-chair, talked to the Mountaineer student-athletes about the side effects of being an athlete, suicide (myths, facts and other statistics), mental health disorders and its warning signs, concussions, mental health resources and much more to help educate and grow awareness.
“We can’t thank Dr. Gloria Beim enough for speaking and educating our student athletes,” Western director of athletics Miles Van Hee said. “These are topics often not discussed enough amongst student-athletes, coaches, staff and athletic administration. It’s important to be aware of these issues, and as a department, we need to make sure the mental health of our Mountaineers is taken care of and worked on just as much—if not more than—the physical part. Our student athletes have to know we are there for them in this capacity. Dr. Beim was fantastic and we appreciate her many facets of support for Mountaineer Athletics. We look forward to further educating our student-athletes, coaches, staff and administrators on these topics.”
If you are, or know of, a Western student—athlete or not—struggling with mental health, please have them reach out to the Western Colorado University Counseling Center or, in the case of an emergency, call (970) 252-6220 and tell them you are calling from Western in Gunnison, and give them your phone number and name. Wait by the phone. They should call back within 15 minutes. If your call is not returned within 15 minutes, call again. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is another source at 800-273-TALK (8255).