2017 Pac-12 Men's Swimming Championship

Event: March 1-4 | Federal Way, WA

2017 Pac-12 Swimming (M) Championships: Stanford swimmer Matt Anderson takes on student-athlete mental health for SAAC

FEDERAL WAY, WASH.--- Junior Matt Anderson landed a coveted spot within SAAC (Student Athlete Advisory Committee): a co-leader of one of Stanford's four separate sub-committees. 

Anderson heads up Cardinal REHD--an acronym that cleverly plays on the school's pride, yes, but the committee hopes to address a major issue within the college sports world. 

REHD stands for Resilliance Health and Emotional Development, and it's objective is to de-stigmatize and promote mental health awareness for student athletes and create a welcoming envirionment for those within the athletic community who seek guidance. 

'Game Faces' is one of Cardinal REHD's biggest events. The event provides a platform for student athletes to articulate the ups and downs they experience in their athletic career. 

"It's promoting a community of acceptance as well as vulnerability on campus that I think is really going to help other people to allow to open up about their experiences and to help with the overall de-stigmitization of mental health on campus,"  Anderson explained, minutes after competing in the 400 medley at the 2017 Pac-12 Men's Swimming Championships. 

Student-athlete mental health, Anderson noticed, is something that tends to go unnoticed. 

"For a student athlete it's really easy to get caught in a trap of 'I have to be tough al lthe time,'... at no fault of Stanford or any other institutions out there, it's a really easy trap to fall into," Anderson said.

"We're competitive and we want to win just as much as the university wants us to win. And often times some of the mental health setbacks get overlooked. But you look at someone who's dealing with depression anxiety, insomnia, all the challenges that we're regularly faced with it makes it that much more serious and intense."

To tackle the problem, REHD members go through peer mentoring classes, with help from sports phsychologists at Stanford, that prepare them with strategies for addressing mental health in the student-athlete community. 

"It focuses on resiliance training, peer counseling, suicide prevention," Anderson said. "All kind of things that is in an intimate setting so that if you were just in daily communication with your fellow peers, people in the community, than you can help them with all their mental struggles as well."