Ninety percent of student-athletes who are struggling with mental health issues do not seek professional help, according to survey research. The Athletes Connected initiative is working to change that statistic, and seeks to increase awareness of mental health issues, reduce the stigma of help-seeking, and promote positive coping skills among student-athletes. Athletes Connected has not only reached student athletes at the University of Michigan but has made an impact on college and high school campuses across the country. Our goal is to create conversation across the country surrounding mental health so all know there are resources available no matter where they are.
Tomorrow, November 29th is Giving Tuesday. Athletes Connected is a program supported by donations from those passionate about the mental well-being of student athletes. If this is an area you are passionate about or want to support so we can continue the groundbreaking programming, then please take part in the season of giving by donating to Athletes Connected! Please visit www.athletesconnected.umich.edu for a direct link to donate.
Developed as a unique collaboration between the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Depression Center, and Athletic Department, Athletes Connected is designed to provide support to all student-athletes – wherever they may be on the “wellness continuum” – from those who have no previous understanding or awareness of these issues, to those who are looking for mental health promotion and prevention strategies, to those who may be in need of additional support and/or clinical care.
Since its inception, Athletes Connected has introduced programming that equips student-athletes with the skills and support they need to increase their emotional health and be successful in athletics, and other aspects of their lives, including:
- Brief, engaging videos featuring former and current U-M student-athletes to help reduce stigma and encourage help-seeking
- Informal, drop-in wellness groups designed to specifically address the unique concerns of student-athletes while providing a space for student athletes to connect with follow student athletes across campus
- Informational sessions that offer prevention and positive coping strategies (e.g. stress-reduction, resilience building) to help student-athletes understand how to manage their mental health
- Research to advance our understanding of the connections between mental health and performance, and to help us further develop best practices for supporting the mental health of student-athletes.
Athletes Connected is already making a very real impact on the lives of U-M student-athletes, and the program has received positive feedback from student-athletes, coaches and athletic department staff. In a survey of students who participated in the Athletes Connected first year pilot program:
- 63% of the student-athletes reported that emotional or mental health issues had affected their athletic performance in the last 4 weeks.
- 99% of student-athletes indicated they found the Athletes Connected videos engaging and relevant.
- 92% of the participating student-athletes expected to apply lessons or skills learned through the Athletes Connected support groups.
News courtesy of Emily Klueh.