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Student athletes at Scappoose High School want to ease the stigma of mental health issues.

PMG PHOTOS - Rylee Cook, Tyler Souvenir and Anika Havlik are three of the Scappoose High School students involved in the new branch of Dam Worth It.Scappoose High School athletes have started the second branch of an organization dedicated to reducing the stigma around mental health issues.

Dam Worth It was started in 2017 by two collegiate athletes at Oregon State University, Taylor Ricci and Nathan Braaten, after the two each lost a teammate to suicide.

Tyler Souvenir, a senior baseball player at Scappoose High School, heard about Dam Worth It from his coach, Cameron Webb.

Students at the high school started organizing the branch as a club last fall and officially launched last month.

Souvenir said that as a senior, he felt taking on a leadership role as president of the Scappoose branch of Dam Worth It would be a way to help younger students, particularly student athletes.

"I thought it was really cool, the motive behind it — especially for athletes, who tend to carry heavier loads," said Rylee Cook, the club's vice president and a senior soccer player.

Cook said the club aims to bring more awareness of mental health issues and resources for students, who tend to hide emotions at school.

Souvenir said that the club will provide a place for students to find support.

"I didn't know about anything else in the community where we could do that — or at our school, at least," Souvenir said.

"We want to bring more awareness on mental health, especially for athletes. We want to provide resources for people who need help," Cook said. The group strives to remind students that "even though things can be stressful, that they can get through it," Cook said.

Dam Worth It prioritizes personal storytelling and creating community connections around mental health.

Cook said the club wants to have a presence at games for each sport, starting with the winter sports — which run mid-May through late June in this unconventional school year.

Decked out in Dam Worth It shirts and wristbands, students want to spread the word about the organization.

Anika Havlik, a senior soccer player, said she heard about the organization through Souvenir.

"I believe mental health is something that needs to receive more attention, especially for student athletes who have a lot on their plate," Havlik said.

"Unfortunately, mental health issues are still stigmatized and the best thing we can do is bring more awareness and education and resources to encourage people to get the help and support they need," Havlik added.

Though the student athletes started working on the club in the fall, Cook says it will be much more present once students are back in classrooms full time and athletic events are open with more attendees allowed.

Dam Worth It has worked with other universities, visiting other Pac-12 schools to spread the group's message with funding from a Pac-12 conference grant.

Scappoose High School is the second official branch of Dam Worth It, but branches at other schools, like Centennial High School in Gresham, are in the works.

Help is available

For Oregonians struggling with mental health issues, the Safe + Strong Helpline is available 24/7 at 1-800-923-HELP (4357). If you are in the midst of a mental health crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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