Embrace The Impact: Former New Haven Standout Ivy Watts Working to Combat Stigma of Mental Health Issues

Embrace The Impact: Former New Haven Standout Ivy Watts Working to Combat Stigma of Mental Health Issues


Feature written by By Dave Cranshaw, Courtesy of the University of New Haven

When Ivy Watts '15 graduated from the University of New Haven, she was one of the most decorated student-athletes in Chargers history. She was part of five program records, she was named the Female Distinguished Student-Athlete her senior year, and she went on to be chosen as 2015 Northeast-10 Conference Co-Woman of the Year.

A psychology major, she also excelled in the classroom, earning a 3.98 GPA. Despite all she accomplished, though, she felt it wasn't enough.

"It became a lot on me mentally to succeed," Watts told WickedLocal.com. "When I wasn't able to meet the goals that I had for myself I tore myself down and it really hurt my self-esteem. Years afterward, I was not able to deal with why I was so fearful all the time in terms of not being able to reach all the goals I wanted to reach and why I was beating myself down. I had a really bad lack of confidence. That's when I realized I had to talk to somebody."

She says that since beginning therapy, she has seen a difference in her life that she now hopes to share with others who are experiencing the same feelings of doubt and trepidation.

Last month, she started Beautifully Simply You, a blog to share her journey and to promote self-worth and mental illness.

"By me being open," she told WickedLocal.com, "and a lot of people seeing how open I am, people will feel encouraged to do the same thing. Maybe not on the same scale, but be encouraged to talk to a friend if they are having a hard time, or get professional help."

Since graduating, Watts went on to earn a master's degree in public health, and she now works as a project specialist for Partners HealthCare.

It was an internship she had before her senior year at Horizons for Homeless Children in her hometown of Roxbury, Mass., that reinforced for her the importance of giving back.

She visited children at various shelters to interact with them to, as she said, give them a chance to be "like regular children" for a little while. On the last day of the internship that made such a difference in her own life, Watts brought some toys and food to the children. They were ecstatic, she said.

"I was surprised they were asking me 'why did you bring all these toys for us?'" she said. "There's a lot of stuff that goes into running a nonprofit, but it was so rewarding."

The NE10 is an association of 15 diverse institutions serving student-athletes across 24 NCAA Division II sports. Together we build brilliant futures by embracing the journey of every student-athlete.

Each year, 4,500 of those student-athletes compete in conference championships in 24 sports, making the NE10 the largest DII conference in the country in terms of sport sponsorship. Leading the way in the classroom, on the field and within the community, the NE10 is proud of its comprehensive program and the experience it provides student-athletes.