Photograph courtesy of Tristan Jones
A thought that many golfers are guilty of, whether playing on the professional stage or the amateur ranks, is that their performances on the golf course, whether good or bad, defines them as a human being. We think a certain shot is a big deal until a big deal happens. Then we realize that there are more important things out there than just golf.
Sometimes there are events in your life that rattle you to the core of your very being and impact you long after it has taken place. For me, it is the long list of people who have taken their own lives, causing a conviction I can’t seem to shake.
It was in my communications and human relations class in College that I first heard about Active Minds in an open and frank discussion with my professor at the time. Active minds is an organisation that is changing the conversation about mental health. In the 15 years of it’s existence, Active minds has had a presence on more than 600 college campuses across the United States impacting more than half a million students each year through awareness campaigns, events, advocacy and outreach programs.
There is this stigma surrounding mental health where people try to hide it because they believe there is something wrong with them. If we begin to speak about mental health in the same way we openly speak about physical health, then we can bring suicide and metal health into the open so that no one is struggling alone. I believe that if people are educated on mental illness then it is a little less intimidating, and having resources avilable to help could make it a little less scary than fighting it on your own.
That is why I am teaming up with Active Minds for Birdies for Suicide Prevention this summer. Help me to support the cause that is close to my heart by pledging an amount to donate for each birdie I make in tournaments in the upcoming months. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go towards building mental health programs on college campus's across the country.
Being a professional athlete can be a selfish thing. But as athletes we have a unique platform. We can make a difference.
While I love playing golf for me, I know that it’s not just about me. I wanted to do this to remind myself that it’s about more than just golf; it’s much bigger than that. Every shot counts but now it counts for something other than a solid round. It counts to let people know that someone sees them and that help isn’t too far out of reach. It counts to change the conversation around mental health and let people know it’s okay to ask for help.
As my Mum always tells me “if you help just one person, isn’t that reason enough?” My hope is that at least one person can be helped in some way by my involvement in this campaign.
Now, more than ever, it’s about more than just golf.
The birdie train will begin for the ALPG Rookie this week at the IOA Invitational on the Symetra Tour schedule. If you would like to support Kayla's Birdies for Suicide Prevention campaign, please contact her via direct message on social media to pledge your commitment to the cause.
If you or a loved one are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out to support services such as Lifeline (Australia) or Active Minds (United States) to speak with a professional.