Group brings mental health awareness to Temple athletes

Morgan’s Message is a non-profit organization designed to de-stigmatize mental health amongst college athletes.

President of Morgans Message Natalie Demasi (Left) and Vice President Peyton Rieger (Right) fight to defeat the stigma around athlete mental health. | THE TEMPLE NEWS / EARL KUFEN

Sept. 4 through Sept. 10 was National Suicide Prevention Week across the country, allowing for organizations to speak out on the struggles people with mental illness face. One organization at Temple University was able to use the week to spread positive messages about mental health awareness for student athletes in Temple Athletics.  

Morgan’s Message is a non-profit organization that provides resources and expertise to those battling mental health issues. Temple University began its own chapter in April 2022, bringing awareness to daily mental stressors, like balancing academics with sports, to the student athlete community on campus.  

The program was brought to Temple by the president of Morgan’s Message at Temple University, Natalie Demasi, who created the partnership with Morgan’s Message after she contacted them directly, and currently sits on the board alongside six other athletes.  

“I have representatives from each team on the board,” Demasi, a sophomore women’s soccer player, said. “The people who are really passionate about it on their team, they are the ones responsible for getting the word out.” 

Morgan’s Message currently has 674 high school and college campuses representing their organization through peer-to-peer ambassador work at each school.  

Reese Henderson, the organization’s treasurer, has been an advocate for mental health awareness by sharing promotional posts on social media. When Demasi offered her the chance to join the board, she jumped at the opportunity.  

“I was already pretty public about my own struggles,” Henderson, a sophomore women’s soccer player, said. “I was passionate about mental health beforehand, so when Nat asked to join this club, I said ‘Yes, for sure.’” 

Morgan’s Message provides a safe space for student athletes to express their personal battles with mental health, as well as uniting the different Temple teams to the common goal of spreading awareness for the issue. 

Meetings at various Main Campus locations and consistent outreach on Instagram has allowed the club to grow to more than 50 people since April. The athletes are given additional information about Temple’s wellness resources, too, and Edward Darrah, Temple Athletics’ director of mental health counseling, serves as the chapter’s adult advisor 

While each athlete has their own mental journey, Morgan’s Message at Temple University has helped find common ground in the issues all student athletes face. 

“I think athletes relate in a lot of different ways,” Henderson said. “We all go to practice, we all lift and we all do this other stuff, but we don’t all talk about mental health, and I want that to be accessible when someone wants to do it.” 

Morgan’s Message has bi-weekly meetings where they invite athletes from each team to attend. While conversations about mental health can’t be forced, the board hopes that more student athletes eventually tell their stories, Demasi said.  

Whether it is the pressure to succeed on the field, in the weight room, in classrooms, on social media or even in their own homes, student athletes face a constant battle with their own identity and emotional balance, Henderson said.  

“I just want everyone to make sure that they know that they’re not alone,” Demasi said. “Before I knew of my resources I felt so alone, I wanted to make sure that everyone knows we have resources like TUWell and a group of athletes that want to make sure everyone is okay.” 

The mental health of male athletes is a hyper-stigmatized topic that the group focuses on as well. Male student athletes have not attended the meetings as often as female athletes but are now receiving more exposure to the positives of the group. 

With Trey Blair serving as a board member, Morgan’s Message is already taking steps in the right direction in supporting all athletes, not just women.  

Blair believes that as a Black male football player, he can hold a prominent role in promoting the club to a newer demographic on campus. By understanding the aspects of mental health that men face daily, his message could start bringing more male student athletes to the meetings. 

“Being a male athlete, you’re kind of expected to be tough and go about your business a certain way,” redshirt-freshman football player Blair said. “But tough to me is about being courageous enough to speak up about your personal issues.” 

While the stigma surrounding the mental health of athletes is still a problem, Temple athletes like Demasi, Henderson and Blair are hoping to fast-track mental support through Morgan’s Message at Temple University, Blair said.  

“With competing at this high of level it comes with changes in starting lineups and lots of people struggle with the anxiety of wanting to be a starter,” Demasi said. “A lot of us struggle with nutrition and body image, too, but we just want everyone to be educated on how to de-stress.” 


Mental health is stigmatized on college campuses across the country, but it is especially difficult for student athletes to speak out. The rigor of their respective sports has created a dilemma where athletes oftentimes put their mental wellbeing on hold in order to focus on their craft.  

Demasi has overcome her own mental health battles over the past three years, but she has used a consistent approach to her emotional wellbeing through therapy and self-care techniques like meditation and journaling that allows her to help others today, Demasi said. 

The organization preaches the idea that sharing your story is one step in the journey towards stability. Mental illness awareness week stems from Oct. 3 to Oct. 9, and Morgan’s Message is hoping to amplify their efforts by that week through giving out wrist bands and a consistent posting schedule on social media. 

The board includes a vice president, treasurer, a secretary and two coordinators along with a president directing the entire operation, allowing for constant communication to athletes, which has led to Morgan’s Message at Temple making strides already. 

 This sector of Morgan’s Message has not seen the same results as with female athletes, but it is something they are looking to improve on. 

“We make one mistake and we think ‘There goes our spot,’ but failure is a part of the process.” 

“I’ll make a mistake and I’ll get very down on myself about that mistake,” Demasi said. “I think other people struggle with that, too.” 

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