Cailin Bracken arrived at Vanderbilt to play lacrosse already well aware of the importance of athlete mental health. She knew of at least two female college athletes, including one from near where she grew up, who had taken their own lives.
Bracken was overwhelmed by college life, especially when she had to isolate upon testing positive for COVID-19 after just a few days on campus. She decided to leave the team.
“I was so self-aware. I was just so trusting of my intuition in a way, and it sounds cliche, but the idea that I’m like, I need to go home even if it doesn’t feel like the right decision to make in terms of my career path or my reputation or whatever else,” she said. “… I felt when I got to college, like my nervous system was deregulated. I couldn’t process anything. I constantly felt overwhelmed. I never felt safe.”