For Samantha ‘Sassie’ Economos, the shadow of depression was never far away. The hockey player and high school teacher recently realised a common thread among her family and friends: all were directly or indirectly touched by depression or suicide.
In partnership with beyondblue, Economos has decided to participate in the Sydney Morning Herald half-marathon in Sydney to raise mental health awareness.
“A lot of my friends suffered from depression. Me and my friends lost people as well,” she said.
Economos has collected $1200 and plans to raise more in the lead up to the 21.1 kilometre race.
“I know it affects a lot of young people, but it’s still a taboo topic, even though it’s a bit more spoken about. It’s an important cause to get out there.”
Despite training for hockey three to four times a week, she continues to exercise in her free time for the upcoming run.
As an athlete she says there can be pressures due to game performances and popularity, with some refusing to speak out about their mental health. She admits her coaches and team at the Tuggeranong Viking Hockey Club are “super supportive”.
“It’s great that Goulburn has opened headspace. We know that there are higher rates of poor mental health in regional areas,” she said.
beyondblue’s research and evaluation leader Dr Stephen Carbone says there is a growing awareness that mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, can impact sportspeople both at grassroots and elite levels.
“Sportspeople are just like the rest of us and while they’re fit and appear happy, they are not immune to conditions such as depression and anxiety,” he said.
“It’s wonderful that members of the community raise awareness about this important issue in a variety of ways.
“Sports clubs are an important part of our communities and they’re great places to raise awareness of mental health conditions.”
On May 21, the marathon will start at 6.45am on College Street in Sydney and finish in Hyde Park North.