A-10 presents mental health video series for student-athletes – The GW Hatchet

The Atlantic 10 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee launched a series of Mental Health Talks this month to promote the ongoing national conversation about the impact of mental health on student-athletes.

The committee, where student-athletes collaborate with administration, coaches and NCAA officials, will release the nine-part mental health series throughout the month, featuring student-athletes interviewing professionals. mental health about ways to deal with mental health issues like depression, anxiety and the stigma surrounding the issues. The initiative comes as recent suicides associated with overworked stress and burnout have raised mental health concerns among student-athletes across the country.

Several NCAA student-athletes took their own lives this spring — Stanford football captain Katie Meyer, Wisconsin track and field athlete Sara Schultze and James Madison softball player Lauren Bernett — but the NCAA has yet to answered.

The committee launched the initiative to help student-athletes understand the impact mental health can have on their well-being and to promote psychological resources in the league. The conversations in the videos encourage student-athletes to start open conversations about mental health while fostering a supportive environment.

“With the mental health crisis among student-athletes being very real and widespread, A-10 SAAC wanted to provide resources for student-athletes throughout the conference,” Cody Shimp, committee chair, said in the statement. . “This mental health video series, produced in collaboration with student-athletes, psychologists and former Atlantic 10 athletes, aims to answer questions about the topic of mental health. It is essential to communicate that everyone faces obstacles and that these obstacles do not have to be experienced. »

The NCAA put together a publication titled Mental Health Best practices in 2016 to recommend resources for colleges for student-athletes and a 2020 Student-Athlete Wellness Scale, which screens and tests the mental health of student-athletes.

GW student-athletes said in the fall that the pandemic had caused their mental health to decline as they felt removed from the university environment and struggled to balance their studies, athletics and life. personal. They said the athletic department has provided support for their mental health throughout the pandemic, encouraging them to meet with mental health professionals and lean on each other for support.

GW Athletics spokesperson Brian Sereno said GW connects student-athletes with clinical sport physicians and psychologists who offer mental wellness consultations, and the athletic department provides mental health and stress management information through monthly emails from Chris Hennelly – the athletic director for student-athlete health. , well-being and performance. Support is also available from counseling and psychology services, which are open to all students, through the Colonial Health Center.

Chris Hennelly – the athletic director for student-athlete health, wellbeing and performance – has discussed mental health with GW coaches in previous years in addition to providing first aid training to support the health and well-being of student-athletes.

Henelly also sends out emails throughout the year with resource information and advice on mental health topics such as suicide prevention and final exam season self-care. Henelly sent a list of six tips student-athletes could follow, such as creating a routine, getting more sleep, and exercising to “wind down” at the end of the semester, in an email sent to student-athletes. at the end of last month acquired by The Hatchet.

“The end of the semester can be an overwhelming time, whether you’re studying for finals, preparing for graduation, or heading home for the summer,” Henelly said in the email. “Engaging in self-care empowers us to take care of ourselves and can bring us back to center when we start to feel stressed, off track or exhausted.”

A clinical sports physician visits each sports program three to four times a year to discuss mental health and how to manage the stresses of the season with student-athletes. Sereno said a clinical psychologist visited the university late last month to discuss the transition from college sports, the culmination of the school year, and ways to adapt and cope with leaving college through mental wellness.

At least half of A-10 schools publish hotlines for mental health services on their websites, and four advertise university mental health programs where any student can meet with psychologists or counselors.

UMass Amherst is the only A-10 member school that offers its own mental health program for student-athletes. The program, called Peak Performance, provides mental health training for student-athletes to manage the demands of being a Division I athlete through stress management and a positive mental attitude while building quality relationships in and out of their sports.

The program provides performance enhancement services that teach student-athletes to perform under stress, talk to each other in difficult times, maintain confidence, regulate emotions, and work with setbacks in one-on-one sessions with licensed psychologists and a certified mental performance consultant. The program also includes advice from coaches, athletic trainers, doctors and support staff on the intersection of mental health and performance.

About 33% of college students suffer from significant symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, according to a study conducted by Athletes for Hope. About 30% of those with mental health crises seek help, and only 10% reported adequate resources.

About 35% of professional athletes suffer from mental health crises that manifest as eating disorders, stress, depression, burnout and anxiety.

The NCAA released the results of a league-wide survey of student-athlete mental health last May, which found that one in 10 students said they experienced levels of depression that impacted on his work “constantly” or “almost every day”. The survey showed that 150-250% more students reported mental health issues during the pandemic than previous reports from the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment, a recognized research survey at nationwide that compiles data on the health habits of student-athletes. .

According to a 2016 study by the National Library of Medicine, female student-athletes reported more depressive symptoms than their male counterparts.

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