NAMPA — Two Northwest Nazarene University volleyball players, Lexi Ward and Casey Kispert, are working to break down the stigma surrounding mental health by sharing their personal experiences on social media.
“We both have struggled with mental health problems, issues whatever you want to call it through our whole life," said Casey Kispert.
Growing up, both athletes struggled with anxiety surrounding athletics, academics, and their appearances.
“We felt like we were isolated in this, and it feels like nobody deals with mental health problems, especially in sports," said Kispert. "We are supposed to be all tough and game mentality and focused and not stressed when there is game or practices.”
“When we were younger, I also feel like it was not talked about at all," said Ward. "Especially in middle school I knew I was struggling, and there was no way I would tell anyone about this like none of my friends are going through this nobody is talking about it."
When they became teammates on the NNU volleyball team, they knew they wanted to help others struggling, so they started a Youtube channel, Authentically Blonde.
"It's been really freeing to talk about some of our experiences," said Kispert. "On our channel, we get real about some things that I haven't even shared with my closest friends."
“Our goal is if we can just help people feel like they are not alone and that we are all struggling in some way shape or form and that we can talk about it and create a safe space is all that we are really hoping to do,” said Ward.
They share stories surrounding mental health, body image, anxiety, and more.
As their channel continues to grow, more and more young girls and student-athletes reach out to them to share their similar experiences.
“We have found that it has been mutually beneficial just through us like talking about things on our channel has brought down the stigma for ourselves, and we feel more comfortable talking about it with each other and with our friends or family, so that’s been really cool," said Ward.
They end every video with the advice they would give to their younger selves.
"That has been really impactful because I wish that when I was younger, I could watch or listen to someone that was dealing with something similar and just see what do I do like what's the next step like how do I fix this," said Kispert.
“I feel like once I realized I needed help, I was more willing to ask for help," said Ward. "There are so many people willing to help you, and there's just like this community of support that I think you don’t really know is out there until you just put yourself out there and recognizing asking for help doesn’t mean you are weak. It’s actually a sign of strength.”
To watch more of their videos, click here.