Home / Podcasts / Revisited – Breaking the Stigma: Supporting Athlete Mental Wellness with Katie Strang

Revisited – Breaking the Stigma: Supporting Athlete Mental Wellness with Katie Strang

Sep 21, 2022

On this revisited episode of Beyond the Balance Sheet, Arden is speaking with investigative writer, Katie Strang about her experience with covering social issues like sexual abuse and gendered violence. Katie writes for the Athletic and has been a leading voice on highlighting mental health awareness among athletes. She talks about why sexual misconduct is more rampant and undercovered within sports. She shares about trauma informed reporting and her mentality when speaking with a victim. Listen as she and Arden talk more about her career, athlete mental health, and self care.

IN THIS EPISODE:

  • [01:39] Athletes and mental wellness now versus five to 10 years ago
  • [04:20] What are the risks for people who share their mental health struggles publicly 
  • [06:08] How specialized do resources need to be for professional athletes 
  • [09:11] Katie shares how she speaks with a victim without triggering them or causing more trauma 
  • [12:21] Why Katie is passionate about telling stories of abuse victims and why sexual misconduct in sports is undercovered
  • [15:42] How to change the system and decrease the likelihood of sexual abuse happening to minors and young athletes
  • [18:40] What happens if someone backs out halfway through a story or the facts go in a different direction and other challenges that Katie faces in her career

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • There is this idea that if you make a lot of money, have name recognition, or are a famous athlete, that you are immune from mental health issues. We know that is untrue and thankfully the sports world is providing more resources to support professional athletes from a holistic perspective that includes mental health.
  • When writing about someone’s trauma or abuse, you have to remember how personal and private that experience is. It belongs to them and no one is entitled to their pain unless they feel comfortable about sharing it. You have to earn their trust and be sensitive without judgment.  
  • There is often an element of institutional protectionism or some sort of enabling from people in power when there is abuse within the sports world. But the pressure shouldn’t fall solely on the athletes to stop abuse. There also needs to be a much greater responsibility on organizations and institutions to protect, especially when it comes to minors and younger athletes.

LINKS MENTIONED:

Smashing the stigma: NHL and mental health by Katie Strang

Uncertainty clouds NHL’s future, so union puts players’ mental health in focus by Katie Strang

BIO:

Katie Strang is a senior enterprise and investigative writer for The Athletic, where she specializes in covering the intersection of sports and social issues, with a particular focus on sexual abuse and gendered violence. For her coverage of the Larry Nassar scandal, she was nominated for the Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sports Writing in 2019. Strang was also a nominee for 2021 National Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.

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