Mar 11, 2018
Focus on Mental Health

The topic of mental health among college student-athletes has been gaining attention. At Ohio University, the Student Athletic Advisory Committee worked with the Student Senate to create and pass a bill demanding more services and resources for student-athletes in this area.

According to an article from The Post, track team co-captain and Student Athletic Advisory Committee Vice President Emily Deering was one of the primary sponsors of the bill. The school’s SAAC believes that more collaboration needs to occur between academic and athletic administrations in regards to the mental health needs of student-athletes.

“At the end of the day, the difference between me competing my absolute best, and me saying ‘I just don’t have it today,’ is having someone to talk to, to help put things into perspective for me so I won’t get anxious, depressed, obsessive, or what have you,” Deering told The Post.

“I think as student-athletes, we are thought of as being strong all the time, but in reality, our sports can drain our mental health,” echoed SAAC Secretary Adam Notestine. “We feel like we have to stay strong no matter what, and we don’t know what to do.”

A survey conducted by the SAAC found that 87% of student-athletes at OU felt “one or more of their teammates could benefit from access to a sports psychologist.” When asked whether they could benefit from a sports psychologist themselves, 91% answered “yes” or “maybe.”

Ohio Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones explained that the university had invested $1 million into Counseling and Psychological Services. This included two full-time psychiatrists as well as the addition of six staff members and an interactive online therapy program called WellTrack.

However, the bill asks for specialized mental health services for segments of the OU population. This would includes athletics, as well as minority students. Deering believes each subset has different psychological needs than others and that services should be “accessible, specialized, and ongoing.”

“The bill isn’t meant to say that OU or the athletics department isn’t making efforts,” said Deering. “I’m here to keep encouraging the efforts being made and to say that they aren’t enough.”

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