mental health

121 : Keeping Your Mental Health On Track w/ Vince Sonson

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Whether you know it or not, odds are that you or some of your teammates have battled or are still battling depression.  Did you know that only 1 of 10 student-athletes dealing with a mental health issue will seek professional help? This means that 90% of cases go untreated (Healthy Bodies Study 2014).  It is also important to note that 51% of athletes who sustained an injury reported mild-to-severe depression symptoms (Leddy MH, Lambert MJ, and Ogles BM, in Res. Q. Exerc. Sport).  Maybe this doesn't surprise you given the stigma surrounding mental health in and athletic culture that encourages the suppression of pain, feelings and emotions. This week's guest is aiming to put an end to that stigma with the creation of a new smart phone app.


Vince Sonson is the CEO & Founder of Balance Position and struggled with depression as a student-athlete while playing football and baseball at Yale University.  His experience with depression inspired him to launch Balance Position whose mission is to empower student-athletes to achieve and maintain optimal mental wellness so they can perform their best on the field, in the classroom, and in life.  In this episode Vince takes us through how the lessons learned from managing his depression have been packaged in an app that can prevent you and your teammates from going through the same suffering. More talking points from our conversation can be found below:

"If treated in a timely and appropriate way, both physical and mental ailments can be minimized."

"injury is an acute precursor, in a lot of cases, to depression."

  • Vince's personal story of managing depression as a student athlete at Yale University.

  • Why the onset of depress is like a train falling off the tracks.

  • How negative self talk can lead to the wobbles off the track and self doubt.

  • Why injury can be a significant trigger for depression in athletes.

  • Vince takes us through his concussion history and why he believes it was led to the onset of his depression.

  • How the Balance Position app works and how athletes can interact it and keep tabs on their mental health.

  • Vince debunks the stigma of mental health in sports.

  • The similarity between concussions symptoms and symptoms of depression.

  • Other injuries Vince overcame throughout his athletic career:

    • Torn MCL, ACL, dislocated elbow, dislocated shoulder

  • Vince was actually a dual sport athlete at Yale. Vince and one of his baseball teammates recently reunited for a CrossFit workout (below).



  • The moment Vince realized he had a problem.

  • Tips for staying on track when you’re falling off the train.

  • The difference and similarities between mental pain and physical pain.

  • Vince takes us through his decision to transfer to Carnegie Mellon University where he finished out his football career.

  • Why it was different at Carnegie Mellon University.

  • Vince's transition to life after sports and how he got into cycling.

  • The right ay to do CrossFit.

  • How the Balance Position app is helping athletes transition to life after sports.

  • Check out other athlete stories of overcoming depression on Balance Position's Story Wall. You might see some familiar faces... (Matt Dauby & Kara Stroup).

Where can you learn more about Balance Position?

Website | Facebook | Instagram



Download Episode 121 : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud

117 : It Takes Trial & A Lot of Error to Find Balance w/ Former Temple Lax Captain, Kara Stroup

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Kara Stroup is a former Temple lacrosse player where she was a two-time team captain. She is also a mental health awareness advocate due to her struggles in overcoming an eating disorder that she hid for 7 years during her career as an elite athlete.  Today, she is working as a Product Director at Balance Position, which aims to empower student-athletes to achieve and maintain optimal mental wellness so they can perform their best on the field, in the classroom, and in life.  Team captains are often tasked with the job of being the glue for their teams and empowering their teammates to achieve levels they never thought possible.  Historically captains attempt to fulfill this role by surprising emotion and feelings.  Kara is proof that being open, honest and vulnerable actually garners greater respect from your teammates and is evidence that the old way of captaining is actually less effective. Below you will find a list of the talking points we cover throughout the interview:

  • The moment when Kara she realized she might have a problem and what triggered it.

  • Why the eating disorder began to get in the way of her life on her 18th birthday.

  • How easy it was to hide the eating disorder.

  • Why overtraining can be a form of a eating disorder because disordered thoughts and behavior dictating your actions.

  • What it was like to perform at an elite level while suppressing nutrition.

  • The link between depression and eating disorders.

  • The fear of telling the truth about her eating disorder.

“It was like skydiving, you just have to jump.” 

  • Managing the duties of being a team captain and taking care of herself at the same time.

  • The most beneficial treatments and the power of journaling.

  • Triggers to her disordered thoughts and how she dealt with them.

  • Academic struggles in college despite athletic success.

  • Kara's Temple Suicide Awareness article published by Temple Athletics and the overwhelm that ensued.

  • Kara's role at Balance Position and why the app is beneficial for those who struggle with their mental health, or they just want to keep tabs on it.

  • The importance of providing accurate information on how you have been doing since your last visit when working with a psychologist/therapist.

  • How Kara was able to get off all her medications.

  • Kara's hobbies outside of lacrosse which led to her earning the YRL Unsung Hero Award.

  • The mental health benefits of writing.

  • Why life without lacrosse was like breaking up with a part of herself.

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Download Episode 117 : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud

116 : When The Truth Sets You Free w/ Former King's College QB & Survivor of Sexual Abuse, Mark Williams

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Episode 116 sheds light on the issue of sexual abuse, which is a topic that has been extensively covered in the media over the last few months.  This episode was recorded back on October 17 of 2017, which was after the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, but before Larry Nassar plead guilty to 10 counts of first-degree sexual misconduct.  Now, we are also aware of the sexual abuse that Nassar's athletes suffered while at Michigan State University.  It is tragic how common and similar these stories are and leaves us wondering how the hell something like this can happen and continue to happen for so long?!  This week's guest tells us not only how, but also what we can do to prevent the suffering of others in the future.

"I am not unique."

Mark Williams is a former East Hampton High School quarterback who led his team to a county championship back in 1973 and he eventually went on to play at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  After losing his father to leukemia when he was 12 years old, Mark fell victim to sexual abuse on multiple occasions, which led him down a path of alcoholism until he was 48 years old.  I can't thank Mark enough for his courage to be vulnerable and share his story with the listeners of the Heads 'N Tales podcast.  As we know, this is the true definition of toughness.  Below you will find a list of some of the talking points you will hear in this interview:

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  • Why the death of Mark's father made him vulnerable to sexual abuse.

  • What influenced Mark to abuse alcohol after being sexually abused by an elementary school teacher and Mark's genetic predisposition to alcoholism.

  • How sports and especially football served as an outlet for Mark.

  • The situation that led Mark to be sexually abused by a Priest when he was 15.

  • Why Mark really struggled playing baseball in high school.

  • The complicated relationship Mark had with the Catholic Church.

“We are as sick as our secrets”

  • How Mark's experiences with sexual abuse lead to a confused sense of sexuality.

  • What happened when Mark "removed the mask" of football and his transition to life after sports.

  • What Mark said when he spoke to the Penn State Football Alumni Association after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

    • Mark shares his thoughts on Joe Paterno's role.

  • The role authority and power plays in instances of sexual abuse.

  • Common themes/red flags of sexual abuse.

“Its like a cancer, and left untreated, eventually it is going to erupt.” 

- Mark Williams on Penn State

  • What happened when Mark stopped using alcohol cold turkey.

  • The limp/conversion disorder Mark developed after losing the "crutch" of alcohol.

  • The question that set Mark free.

“When was your first drink?” 

  • How Mark is using his experience as a forensic social worker and mitigation specialist.

  • Story of a Rikers Island prisoner Mark worked with.

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Download Episode 116 : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud