Catching Up with Victoria Garrick Browne – Advocating for Mental Health in Athletics

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It’s been a while since we last caught up with Victoria Garrick Browne, founder of The Hidden Opponent an accredited nonprofit and advocacy group dedicated to raising awareness for student-athlete mental health. Victoria is also the winner of the 2021 Sports Imports/AVCA Courage Award for her advocacy and passion for mental health in athletics. So, we thought it was time to check in and see how things have been going. Here’s what she had to say:


Mental health awareness in sports has gained significant traction recently. How do you feel the conversation has shifted, and what role has The Hidden Opponent played in this change?

I’ve seen this conversation continue to evolve and grow over time and it’s both encouraging and necessary. People are realizing that struggling with mental health is not just an issue some athletes experience, but the overwhelming majority. The Hidden Opponent has been doing this work for four years now, and we will remain a resource for those struggling, and hope the greater public continues to come to our Instagram for the latest news and information about this important conversation.


Looking back over the past few years, what are some unexpected challenges you’ve faced with your advocacy work, and how have you navigated them?

I think I’ve had to find the right balance between my advocacy work, which can be emotionally taxing just due to the subject matter, and enjoying the happiness I’ve been able to find in my life today. I’ve been able to make some adjustments to my speeches and content so that I can protect my emotions while continuing to do the advocacy work I feel I was called to do.

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Since we last spoke, how has The Hidden Opponent evolved, and what new milestones have been achieved?

Since we last spoke, The Hidden Opponent has become an official partner of Adidas! We are thrilled to be working with such an incredible company and so excited for what’s to come. While I can’t share much, I can say that we have many meaningful plans already in motion.


Your outreach extends globally with over 900 Campus Captains. Can you share a story or two about how these ambassadors have made a difference in their communities?

One of our former Campus Captains, Anna Schmidt, was able to change state legislation to ensure mental health resources would be included on student IDs. Learn more here:


In terms of tools and resources, what new developments or partnerships has The Hidden Opponent introduced to better support student-athletes’ mental health?

Thanks to our partners, CogWell, out of the University of Pennsylvania, we have been able to enroll over 300 of our Campus Captains in active listening training. We hope to be able to provide this peer to peer support model to all of our Campus Captains to improve locker room talk and empower them to feel confident supporting struggling teammates.

Learn more here:

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As someone who has been both a collegiate athlete and now a mental health advocate, what advice would you give to coaches and sports administrators to better support their athletes’ mental wellness?

Please don’t wait until your players are struggling to provide them with support, or encourage them to seek help when they need it. Ideally we’re arming these students with the emotional skills and tools to navigate mental health challenges as they arise, and bench the stigma surrounding help seeking.


You’ve achieved a lot both personally and professionally. Looking ahead, what are some goals or dreams you’re aiming for in the next few years?

I truly just try to take it one day at a time. Waking up and doing my best, staying true to myself, learning, adapting, pursuing, and being a good human. I trust that if we can all stack up days like that, we’ll end up somewhere special!


Finally, for anyone struggling with their mental health right now, especially in the athletic community, what words of encouragement or advice would you like to offer?

I encourage you to check out our instagram @thehiddenopponent where you’ll find a community of people who understand you, and will assure you that not only are you not alone, but that you can get through this!