UH Athletic Department Expands Mental Health Resources for Athletes

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Mental health issues can take many forms. Football safety at the University of Hawaii, Leonard Lee, stresses the importance of normalizing the subject in athletics.

“They can come to practice, walk into a locker room, walk into school, into class with a smile on their face and as happy as they can be, but then they come home and you never know what they’re struggling with,” said Lee.

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The athletic department is working to address mental health issues by providing more resources. This summer, they are hiring a second half-time mental health specialist, implementing mental health screenings for all athletes, and planning a mental health awareness week in the fall.

“They’re definitely going in the right direction and putting guys at ease and giving us the resources we need to share and be comfortable and open up,” Lee said.

UH Manoa also released its concussion report for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Soccer had the most incidents with nine and men’s diving with two. There were 16 concussions diagnosed for the whole year.

Meanwhile, UH Hilo reported four total concussions last year. There were two incidents for baseball and one for women’s and men’s soccer, citing a 12-day recovery average.

Some experts have said that being proactive and addressing mental health issues can actually help prevent the lasting effects of concussions.

“If you have a predisposition to depression, it slows the process down even more and makes recovery even more difficult,” said Ross Oshiro of Hawaii’s Concussion Awareness Management Program.

The university said there are already therapists who live in halls of residence to provide after-hours care.

Lee said it was encouraging to see mental health being brought to the fore.

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“They don’t just care about our physical appearance, but our mental health and all that. So I think it’s a great idea. We can only benefit from it,” Lee said.

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