A Study of Student-Athlete Mental Health Resources

Tim O’SheaDonor

In March, Katie Meyer, national champion goalkeeper and captain of the Stanford University women’s soccer team, took her own life.

As a student-athlete myself, I could only dream of reaching the heights that Katie Meyer had reached. It’s another tragic story of a student-athlete who seemed to be living the dream, but was clearly battling demons we can’t even comprehend.

This tragedy sparked the idea to further the NCAA’s strategy to promote mental health awareness among student-athletes and athletic programs as a whole. More so, I wanted to see if Southern Connecticut State University was doing its part to meet NCAA standards.

I wanted an answer to the question, does Southern do the most for its student-athletes?

Through NCAA studies, they outlined some key elements of best practice in mental health support (Stamatis et al., 2020):

1. Mental health care should be provided to student-athletes only by licensed and qualified professionals

2. Inter-collaborations are encouraged for the development of plans focused on the early identification and referral of student-athletes in need

3. Pre-participation screening for a variety of subclinical symptoms of mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and alcohol use is suggested

4. It is recommended that all stakeholders be made aware of the development of sports cultures that promote the management of mental health problems of student-athletes

According to Nick Pinkerton, Director of Counseling at Southern Connecticut State University, he says, “Coaches, coaches, and other athletic personnel have received basic training in how to support student-athletes who are experiencing performance issues. mental health,” making everyone in the athletic department able to help any student-athlete in need of mental health help.

The NCAA has also done its part to help students mentally and physically. In college football, the NCAA’s most profitable sport, they recently made rule changes that are significantly pro-player.

For example, since the beginning of modern college football, teams have held two or even three practices a day. In an attempt to limit exposure to repetitive head impact during preseason football, the NCAA eliminated two-day practices in 2017, while maintaining the total number of team practices (Stemper, BD, Shah, AS, Harezlak, J. et al., 2019). This shows an effort by the NCAA to not only prevent injuries, but also to create a mentally and physically healthier environment for college football players.

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